Archive page for November 2016

The big news story of 2016 is The Voter Who Elected Trump.

Yet the news orgs have snapped back to business-as-usual. 

They tried to cast Trump as the standard-issue Republican Party candidate for president, but that never worked. They're now going to expend serious energy making him fit into the role of President of the United States, and this time with the help of the Constitution, they will probably have a bit more success, which will encourage them to keep on the path they're on.

And that's fine, but it isn't furthering the story-of-the-year. 

This should be a long-term redirection for news orgs. Shifting the focus of news from all-coasts-all-the-time to centers throughout the country. The first step is to build a new hub mid-country. I suggest Flint, Michigan. The host would be Michael Moore of course. And he would invite on anyone he wants. He could invite people from NY, DC, LA, SF or Seattle, but they'd have to travel to Flint to be on the show. The idea is to shift the center.

What would happen? I don't know. But it would probably be more like TrumpLand than Hardball. I bet it would be good. And it would sure be different. And we need that difference. 

America is changing. Has been changing for a number of decades. But journalism has tried to keep things constant. I once described this to my then-colleague, Jay Rosen, as picking up a box from one place and putting it down in another, without considering that the box shape might not be the right one for now. 

We have to bring new people into the conversation. That's the message of the new age. It should have been done smoothly, by hosting blogs at the big news orgs for people who were newsworthy on their own, to go direct to the readers. But they wouldn't do it. So it happened on Facebook and Twitter. But as we see, the social media services, with their limits, are not good containers for intelligent discourse. And we need to include people who previously we didn't. Again, if the news orgs don't do it we will have to do it ourselves.

I always have trouble finding the first podcast I did with Chris Lydon on July 9, 2003

We were sitting at a table at Berkman Center, which was located on Mass Ave in Cambridge at that time. For some reason I think the table was outside, but I don't think there actually were any outside tables at that building. Memory is not perfect. 

It took a while for me to get going. Here it is. The sound quality as you would expect from Chris was outstanding. Hopefully now it won't be so hard to find. wink

Also, later that month I wrote a longer post about Chris's podcast, which I called a "weblog for the ears." This is before we settled on calling them podcasts (that didn't happen until Sept 2004).

This is a longish podcast (18 minutes).

I start with the story of the Trump voter on Delta airlines who gave a speech and was banned for life. I thought he actually had something important to say, if we listened from a different point of view. This is the tweet I wrote about it. 

The guy ranting on @delta flight was saying (rudely) "Fuck you, I'm powerful," after his whole life hearing "Fuck you, you're powerless."

Then I talk about the three episodes of the Run-up podcast that every voter imho should listen to. 

And the reality of war, it feels great when you're starting war. Ending wars is harder. The misery lasts a long time, with lots of death and suffering. 

We have cartoon-character images of each other, that aren't real. That's how wars begin, by making enemies of people who aren't actually enemies. By objectifying people. 

It's pretty clear the new leadership wants us to be fighting with each other.

Simple things we can do -- news orgs can have shows originate from the middle of the country, Kansas, Alabama, Michigan, Utah or Arizona. Let us hear directly from the people who voted for Trump, who is on track to become the next president unless the people flex their power, again.

Interesting thought. I think any NBA coach would be a better president than the one who was elected. I explain why I think that. I think the guy on the Delta flight would be a better president! Not a joke.

There really isn't any time to waste. Trump voters, you are powerful. Your message has been received. 

Listening, now, is actually the key to digging out of the hole. Later it won't be as easy. 

PS: If you can't get through the NYT paywall, I'm told you can listen to the podcasts here

The Run-up podcast did something along the lines of my Nov 14 proposal to create connections between red and blue state people.

They did three podcast conversations between friends and family members, each of whom voted for different candidates.

Each conversation is incredibly revealing, they can be hard to listen to, because you see the problem, and one of the two people doesn't. I imagine that if you voted the other way you see a different problem. This is the place where we need to listen, try to understand, and give each other the benefit of the doubt. 

I feel this is the kind of grounding we need, all of us, to just listen to each other, and the Run-up people have done something great here. Highly recommended.

Continuing to argue on Twitter and Facebook is only going to make things worse. There's an incredible frenzy of petition-signing, money-giving, ranting, but we're way past the point where people need releases, it's just activity for the sake of being active. What we need is, imho, to get reflective, and think about what we want to happen. Listen to ourselves fully and then try to listen to each other. 

There still is a huge amount of power with the people, but it's diminishing. We're always one step behind where we need to be to avoid heading further over the cliff. So please take some time with yourself, go for a walk, sit on a bench, with your phone turned off. Breathe. 

What you do in the next few weeks matters an awful lot.

Follow-up to Friday's post

The thing that's really hard is styling. 

If you just want bold or italic, you have to bring in the heavy machinery.

Since the last time I looked however, the machinery has been nicely packaged thus..

It works. Still filled with mystery, but I have something interesting working, but far from complete.

Listened to a podcast interview with Bruce Springsteen

Funny, after listening to his music all these years, I had never heard him talk. 

He sounds like my friends from childhood. We're like cousins. Who knew. 

And the guy is funny and he's just like someone who could be your friend. 

Except he's made some of the best music ever. 

I'm interested in tools that generate what I think of as "Twitter Text".

Here are a few examples.

Each of them presents a quote, as a bitmap, obviously rendered through a template.

I'm wondering what kinds of tools exist for creating these?

I imagine some of them are done in Photoshop, but I'm thinking of a text editor that automatically generates them.

I have good HTML 5 canvas code. You can try it out with Little Card Editor, which produces somewhat similar results. Also there's a video demo

I've turned on comments on this post, looking for links to existing products, experience using in-house tools, etc.

The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Larry Lessig on the Electoral College today. This is a very important piece. He says something that very much needs to be said, and heard. If you can access the piece through their paywall please do. But this piece is so important, I'm reproducing it here in full, so everyone can read it.

By Lawrence Lessig.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the electoral college requires that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president. That view is an insult to our framers. It is compelled by nothing in our Constitution. It should be rejected by anyone with any understanding of our democratic traditions  — most important, the electors themselves.

The framers believed, as Alexander Hamilton put it, that “the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the [president].” But no nation had ever tried that idea before. So the framers created a safety valve on the people’s choice. Like a judge reviewing a jury verdict, where the people voted, the electoral college was intended to confirm — or not — the people’s choice. Electors were to apply, in Hamilton’s words, “a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice” — and then decide. The Constitution says nothing about “winner take all.” It says nothing to suggest that electors’ freedom should be constrained in any way. Instead, their wisdom — about whether to overrule “the people” or not — was to be free of political control yet guided by democratic values. They were to be citizens exercising judgment,  not cogs turning a wheel.

Many think we should abolish the electoral college. I’m not convinced that we should. Properly understood, the electors can serve an important function. What if the people elect a Manchurian candidate? Or a child rapist? What if evidence of massive fraud pervades a close election? It is a useful thing to have a body confirm the results of a democratic election — so long as that body exercises its power reflectively and conservatively. Rarely — if ever — should it veto the people’s choice. And if it does, it needs a very good reason.

So, do the electors in 2016 have such a reason?

Only twice in our past has the electoral college selected a president against the will of the people — once in the 19th century and once on the cusp of the 21st. (In 1824, it was Congress that decided the election for John Quincy Adams; likewise in 1876, it was Congress that gave disputed electoral college votes to Rutherford B. Hayes.)

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland but won in the electoral college, only because Boss Tweed’s Tammany Hall turned New York away from the reformer Cleveland (by fewer than 15,000 votes). In 2000, George W. Bush lost the popular vote by a tiny fraction — half a percent — and beat Al Gore in the electoral college by an equally small margin — less than 1 percent.

In both cases, the result violated what has become one of the most important principles governing our democracy — one person, one vote. In both cases, the votes of some weighed much more heavily than the votes of others. Today, the vote of a citizen in Wyoming is four times as powerful as the vote of a citizen in Michigan. The vote of a citizen in Vermont is three times as powerful as a vote in Missouri. This denies Americans the fundamental value of a representative democracy — equal citizenship. Yet nothing in our Constitution compels this result.

Instead, if the electoral college is to control who becomes our president, we should take it seriously by understanding its purpose precisely. It is not meant to deny a reasonable judgment by the people. It is meant to be a circuit breaker — just in case the people go crazy.

In this election, the people did not go crazy. The winner, by far, of the popular vote is the most qualified candidate for president in more than a generation. Like her or not, no elector could have a good-faith reason to vote against her because of her qualifications. Choosing her is thus plainly within the bounds of a reasonable judgment by the people.

I'm on a TV news budget. No more than one hour a night. That generally means I watch Rachel Maddow. Sometimes Chris Hayes.

There's a lot of fussing about What Went Wrong, and the irony that Hillary got more than 2 million more votes than Trump and that number keeps growing. Given those numbers, it's kind of obvious that a lot went right. That's first. Don't overlook that. 

Second, I think you can figure out what the difference was between 2012 and 2016 without me saying it, but people can't seem to make the words come out of their mouths, so I will say it for them. 

2012: A charismatic campaigner against a guy with a stick up his ass. The charismatic campaigner won. Pretty much the same thing in 2008, btw.

2016: A charismatic campaigner who said a lot of shit that made educated people look away in horror, vs a smart candidate who was careful not to say anything that would make people mad at her (for good reason) and would have been a great president (imho) but (key point here) is a poor campaigner. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say Hillary was at best a 3. Very often a 2. The charismatic campaigner, as always, won.

People love stories. They love to cheer. Elections are tribal. We want to feel like we belong to God's Own Tribe. We have right on our side. But those are just words. What's actually going on is body chemistry. When you feel part of a winning tribe, you get oxytocin in your blood which is basically heroin. It feels great. It's like falling in love. A lot of people got that from Trump. And if he weren't so transparently ignorant and unsuited for the job, and racist, he probably would have inspired a lot more people to vote for him. 

Hillary? I supported her all the way, but I always hoped people wouldn't notice how awkward she is on the trail. No confidence in herself. In the debates, she was fantastic. That's her element. But getting a crowd off their feet, yelling and cheering, she isn't a natural. In that sense Bernie was a better candidate. Not saying he would have won. I don't know, no one does.

Moral of the story. If you think your candidate can't campaign, have a straight talk with him or her, and tell them they have to step aside, because they're going to lose and that does no one any good.

Now that said, there's no upside in blaming anyone, making them feel bad, tarnishing them in history. Leave it alone. But you must tattoo the lessons on your forehead so you never forget. Campaigns matter. Gravitas matters. Confidence, storytelling, building a tribal presence, they all matter. Body chemistry matters. 

Which brings me to the dazzling Rachel Maddow. She can tell a story and make you cheer and stand up and say YEAH. The feeling is I want lots more of that. She has a natural ability to get the tribal oxytocin flowing. She's a fantastic, passionate, super-smart, high-feeling, earnest, learned, inspirational story-teller. High integrity, honorable, she cares, and you can tell. She would do well, imho, if she decided to run.

This is the second part of my Thanksgiving message. 

Yesterday I said let's have a nice Thanksgiving. 

Today I add, forgive everyone you possibly can.

We're all having a tough time.

What if everyone decided to be nice to everyone else from now until we have sorted out this political mess? Let bygones be bygones. Nothing is accomplished by blaming other people. We need to be creative about getting in front of our problems. And grudge-holding is only holding us back.

In 1995 I wrote a piece where I called for a new form of social behavior. Forgive everyone you meet. Let's love each other without reservation. It might help. wink

It's not like anyone gets out of this alive! 

I'm trying to think but nothing happens!

I have an idea for this Thanksgiving.

Let's give thanks to the the United States that is us.

Did you ever notice how the initials for the country are also our name?

E pluribus unum, it's on every bill -- Out of many, one. That's us. 

So let's thank the United States.

The generous, diverse, upward-reaching United States. 

The one that figures stuff out, makes things right, gets shit done and sets a table at the feast for everyone, no matter what color their skin, including white. 

Say thank you to everyone and everything.

Remember what President Kennedy said: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Let's break the mold this holiday season and set records for acceptance and gratuity

Let's have a nice Thanksgiving!

PS: Here's part 2 of my Thanksgiving message.

Sometimes you figure stuff out in four tweets. 

#1: Spooky thing about jury duty is the realization that you're personally part of a courtroom drama, after watching them on TV a million times.

#2: That's what's spooky about this political thriller our lives have become. The plot is rich and surprising. And we are in it.

#3: Imagine Obama meeting with Putin. Obama lost our country to him. We were invaded, and conquered in a bloodless war.

#4: You think this was electronic chaos? It hasn't started yet.

I'd just add that the US isn't yet a failed state, but it's on it's way to becoming one. Trump as president, it can't end well. That's something we all have to face. The sooner the better, imho. (This part was not in a tweet.)

On Facebook, Scott Rafer writes

"I've been trying to rationalize Mark Zuckerberg's behavior, and all I can come up with is that he is secretly pro Trump. He can't admit or too much of his workforce would quit starting with Sheryl Sandberg. But the behavior around defending Peter Thiel and denying the influence of fake news and Facebook's place in it only leads me one place."

My response

Imho it's "more complicated." 

He has to work with the new government, and if they're going to act like Russia or China, they're going to want to control what people say on Facebook. Zuck has been trying to work with China, so he knows all about this, far more than any of us. 

Presumably Facebook in their negotiations with China has had to demonstrate the ability to control speech. Those features would not be turned on in the US, but Trump might want them to be, at some point. The excuse will probably be something like preventing terrorists from using Facebook to plan attacks, but it's likely it would be used to control dissent and keep the opposition disorganized and confused. His supporters too, for that matter. 

Facebook is likely already communicating with the new administration, since they absolutely understand how powerful Facebook is. Of course they are even more powerful (Trump et al). So he has to be careful. 

Facebook can thrive, for the time-being, without being in China (as they are), but they probably couldn't survive without the United States. He almost certainly is not in favor of Trump personally, from what I know about him, but if he were to act on that, or if it could be spun that way, it could be a disaster for his company.

I made a small change in the way the home page is built which should result in it loading faster. I made the same change to In both cases it was only the home page that changed, not any subordinate pages.

So, here are the two things to look for

  1. Does it load faster, subjectively, for you? Or about the same? Slower?
  2. Are there display anomalies? Things that look weird that you are pretty sure didn't look weird before. (For that matter anything that looks weird is worth noting.)

The next step will be to make the same change for new story pages. I'm not going to screw with pre-existing stories. 

The change is that I merged all the code inclusions into a single file, and all the styles. They are also all on, so that also might help convince some virus apps that Scripting News, the oldest blog on the net, isn't trying to do some harm to your computer (seriously that's how shitty some of this shit is). 

I've turned on comments on this post so people can report any problems or just say hi. Remember the comment guidelines. No blog-post-length comments, speeches, or opinions about people. I delete off-topic comments.  wink

Facebook friends, one of the things you all could do to improve the news here is, if there is an IA feed, include the full text of the post in the web version.

People don't often click on links. This way they would have more info to go on, if they're trying to vet the quality of the news themselves, right here on Facebook.

This was a big disappointment for me with Instant Articles. I was hoping it would make the web and Facebook work much better together.

I wrote about this a lot earlier this year and the year before.

PS: This originally appeared on Facebook.

I read this piece in CJR, the story of Chris Arnade who spent a year embedded with Trump voters. Lots of interesting ideas.

We want our leaders to tell us why we're here, what we're supposed to do, how we can define, and then find success. 

The best leaders give us a cause to join that gives meaning to our lives. 

FDR did fireside chats where the talked the country through the depression and World War II. 

JFK went on TV and said Let's go to the moon!

At some point climate change will get so tangible that it will be possible to rally the country around overcoming it, becoming a sustainable civilization.

I guess for some people Trump inspired them. It didn't work for me. I can't feel inspired when I'm feeling so much fear. 

So now after this election, Trump said he wants to unify the country, but his appointments send another signal. Women, Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Latinos, have much to be afraid of. He's not actually going to do any unifying until the fear fades into the background.  And he's doing the opposite, he's stoking the fear. 

Yesterday I wrote a piece urging the news industry to finally join together to produce a user experience with news that is at least equal to Facebook and only contains items from actual news organizations and bloggers. 


Of course I've urged the news industry to do this many times before. 

For many years. 

Eventually Facebook filled the void.

And because for whatever reason Facebook doesn't want to take responsibility for the authenticity of the news sources, their product is now worse than useless, it is doing real harm, on a massive scale.

It's time for the news industry to combine their flows into one, using the same metadata that flows to Twitter and Facebook, and produce a stream where the fake sources can't get in. 

I don't think this idea is understood, but I can think of one person who probably cares, who will understand, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post. 

Can you help this idea reach him? (No spam please, only if you actually know him. I've never met Bezos myself.)

Please, let's get this together quickly. It won't hurt anyone's business model, and it will provide an alternative to the fast-becoming-truthless news world of Facebook.

PS: Here's a rough idea of what such a feed might look like. 

It would be relatively simple to produce a web-based feed, outside of Twitter or Facebook, that includes only stories from vetted news orgs. That doesn't mean that their stories are true, just that they are making their best efforts to produce real news.

There's no time to get into a deep philosophical discussion about this. I know all about the flaws of the press. But there's a world of difference between their product and some of the pubs people are relying on for news. Sort of like the difference between the flaws of the two candidates we all just voted for, that were covered so inadequately by the press. (Ironic isn't it.)

I'm calling on the news industry to work together solve this problem. The technology is there now. We have to help readers find reasonably reliable sources of news. The technical problem is already solved. All that's needed is the will to create the system. It is not hard to do what Facebook does in aggregating news. 

Relying on the tech industry to distribute news has had terrible results. The news industry must do its own distribution if the resulting product is going to be worth anything. 

Each news org has been a silo. We need a platform that combines the flows of all the silos. Not full text. Just abstracts and images. The tech and knowhow are here now. It's long past time to act. We all feel the urgency. Work together. Now.

You must be feeling by now what Ben Franklin expressed so well in revolutionary days. "We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."


PS: I posted a follow-up.

Check it out for yourself at

BTW, to programmers who are tuned in, this is a demo of an outliner being used to browse a networked data structure, the graph of synonyms of the English language.

People made fun of Trump, saying he could never get the Republican nomination. Then they made fun of him saying he could never win the election. At this point, you must see how pathetic it is to make fun of him.

A 7-minute podcast where I propose candlelight vigils in the state capitals on December 19 when the electors vote. The same way you'd have a vigil for a death penalty execution.

Something is dying on December 19. Let's at least mark it with our presence. 

I want the electors to know that if they want to vote for a different candidate there are millions of Americans who support them. 

This is part of the Constitution. Don't believe any pundits or journalists who say this can't be done. 

And if you know Michael Moore, please ask him to listen to this. 

We need to get this idea out there. The president is still Obama, and our freedom of assembly should still work. 

This is the most potent political tool left to the citizens. 

Let's be smart now, and stand up for America. 

PS: Here's a spreadsheet with the capitals of the 2016 red states.

I'm a big fan of the West Wing Weekly podcast. I've tried tweeting the hosts, at times, without acknowledgment. Occasionally I have what I think is a good idea for them, or a word of encouragement. Unlike other fans of theirs, who they talk about on the show, I never have a harsh word. I love the show and the two protagonists. I'm not only a fan but I'm a supporter. (I have a lot of experience with podcasts going back to the early 2000s, and I know how kvetchy fans can be.)

So I'm going to try writing a short blog post and send them a link because they really need to hear this!

At the beginning of the show that came out today they explain that they recorded it before the election and it's clear that, like many of us, their world is rocking because of the result. 

What I want to say is that The West Wing is the antidote. It's the escape. Let me explain.

When the show ran originally we were in the midst of the Bush II presidency. It was a real nightmare. He bumbled through wars and tax cuts, the economy first shuddered and then collapsed. Hard times in America! Watching The West Wing gave us a chance to escape for an hour a week in a White House with a cranky but eloquent Nobel laureate as the president, and a staff of the best and brightest of their generation, all speaking words written for them by the ironic and warm-hearted Aaron Sorkin. 

I've proposed elsewhere that the Trump presidency offers a great chance to reboot the West Wing franchise. This time it should star a young attractive POTUS who is constantly fighting battles with an obstructionist Republican congress, but still manages to be a wonderful president. He is always being pursued by a crackpot who questions his birthplace and legitimacy as president. The White House is staffed by various bright young smart people who are always doing zany unpredictable things, but you know their hearts are in the right place. If we manage to survive the Trump years, at least we can do it with a certain amount of comfort and hope for the future. 

And even if they don't reboot the West Wing TV show, at least we still have the podcast! Keep up the good work Josh and Hrishi. You are not alone. wink

PS: I also proposed during the campaign that someone offer Trump a starring role in a reboot of the West Wing. Somehow I think that's more like what he wanted. Too late now. (Maybe not?)

PPS: I've written about the WW quite a few times previously. 

PPPS: Geez I'm far from the only person talking about this. 

I swore off cable news, but tonight I cheated and watched Rachel Maddow. Learned what a sanctuary city is, a good smart thing. Immigrants can call the cops without fear of being deported. So crimes don't go unreported. So police can help keep the peace. Such a humane and smart thing. A matter of public safety as the mayor of Minneapolis told us.

And they had a Somali woman who had been elected to the Minnesota state Senate, the first in US history. There was another segment on how cops in Arizona had used traffic stops to turn people over to immigration, and the guy who designed their law, and Alabama's, is now in charge of immigration for Trump. Both were declared unconstitutional.

But the mayor of Minneapolis says her police department isn't going to help the Trumps round up immigrants in Minneapolis, and it doesn't matter if you cut off federal aid. That's a problem we can deal with, said the mayor. I cheered. It's the usual Republican assholery. And lazy entitled white people who vote for them. 

Made me embarrassed to be white. As usual the immigrants are kicking ass, sending their kids to college, starting businesses, keeping their neighborhoods clean and safe, and the fat-ass white people just sit around complaining on their fat entitled white asses. 

Sorry, that's how it looks to me. You all are always saying how we look to you. Deal with it. wink

I'm tired of coddling lazy fat-ass good for nothing white people. 

They also showed Trump's rally in Minneapolis in the last days of the campaign, telling more lazy entitled fat-ass white people that their lives suck because of the Somalis. They cheered enthusiastically. I guess being white is so depressing for some people they can only feel good if you put down people with darker skin. As if that mattered. Don't they see how pathetic they are?

BTW, I did a Twitter poll asking how many Republican senators would switch to the Democratic Party in Season 3 of the new Trump reality show. I wanted to put the idea out there. I actually think there will be a realignment of parties. You know it happens, Repubs do turn into Dems. I think a lot more of that is going to happen than people realize. 

And the fear of the New Repubs being the second coming of Hitler, I'm thinking they're more like the Fascists Who Can't Shoot Straight. Laurel and Hardy Meet Autocracy. The Keystone Kops of Totalitarianism. 

It's very wrong for Facebook to not take an active role in getting fake news stories off the site or at least appropriately and clearly labeled as probably humor or a scam.

The company goes to such extremes to prevent people from using fake names or impersonating others, why would it allow sites to pretend to be real news sites when they're scams?

This is a cross-post of a post on Facebook. Please comment, share and like that post. Thanks.

Another story...

I remember in 2008, after the crash of Lehman Brothers, and after the Treasury secretary let them go out of business, and watching President Bush look completely lost, waiting for the next domino to fall, as the financial markets had frozen, no credit was flowing. 

Huge tankers were stuck in port with no funds to cover their fuel. 

I had just come home to Berkeley from a New York trip where I wasn't sure if I wouldn't be stranded in NYC because the economy had crashed. I remember looking at the headlines of the Times and Daily News and feeling like I was living in a movie, this didn't feel real.

I was driving on Solano Ave in Berkeley with my friend Tori, and noted how normal everything looked. All the shops and restaurants were open. People were out on the street. I wondered if it would all be there a year later. I asked Tori if she thought it would. She said yes. I made a note to remember that. And it seems I have. (She was right, btw, it all was there a year later, as if nothing happened.)

I told that story to a young friend at dinner last night. We're all worried about what's coming next. We're pretty sure that our current president, the one who took over for Bush, could get us out of most crises, as he did then. But the Republicans now taking over are going down the exact same path that led us to the financial collapse of 2008. 

They aren't even in office yet, but you can see the tax cuts coming, and dramatically increased spending. All of a sudden deficits aren't a problemWe suffer for years of deprivation and an unmanaged economy because the Repubs obstruct in Congress, until they take over, and now the checkbook is out, the credit card is about to be maxed, and you can be sure their friends and probably POTUS himself will be on the receiving end of our largesse. All of a sudden future generations be damned. Run up the deficit. Send more of future generations' money to the 1% of the 1%. 

One of these days we won't survive a Republican-induced crisis. Right now, if Tori were here, I wonder what she would say (I'll send her a pointer to this story). Will the lights still be on one year from now? Me, I'm not so sure. wink

A great scene from The West Wing...


It sobered me up. We're all worried that the new #2 guy at the White House is a racist, but we were looking at the wrong thing. It's like CJ says, it doesn't matter if you can swim, the fall is going to kill you.

If that's really the team, Trump, Priebus and Bannon, then you don't have to worry what kind of person Bannon is. They're going to be overwhelmed the moment they get to work. 

President Obama did a press conference before heading to Europe. It was so impressive, his grasp of all the issues, foreign and domestic, wars, health insurance, everything. Not a single gaffe. They were tough questions. Makes you wonder why he can't just do a third term. I don't think anyone thought that about George W. Bush when Obama took over. As I recall, Bush was asking for help before Obama took office.

Read this Matt Yglesias piece for the full picture. This is a case where the headline doesn't do the story justice.

I've seen this happen before with a server I inherited. The domain,, was redirected, and immediately it crashed and wouldn't come back up. Too much traffic. That's what awaits the Trump team when all the urgencies of the world arrive at Priebus' desk, who's much better suited to be political director (Josh Lymon's job) than chief of staff (Leo McGarry).

Hopefully at some point one of the Trump team notices that they aren't ready to do the job, and asks for help from someone who has run a White House. Then they can start building a team. And hopefully someone tells the new president he can't have an neo-Nazi in his White House. 

Here's an outline that describes a new kind of online system, one that I discuss at some length in a podcast late last week. You might want to listen to that podcast if you find the idea described here interesting.

1. It's not a community. We already have community systems, for example, Twitter and Facebook. We already know what they can do.

2. It pairs people, one from a red state, one from a blue. Think of them as electronic penpals.

3. They have similar backgrounds. For example, both are teachers, with two kids, living in a suburban neighborhood. So they recognize facets of each others' lives. Or a divorced truck driver paying child support in Georgia is paired with one in California. A programmer in Salt Lake City with one in Boston.

4. No minds are changed. Very important point. This is not about talking someone into agreeing with your conclusion. It is, however, about understanding their point of view, the things they are passionate about and why. How each of you reached different answers to the same question.

5. The system chooses the pairings. Two or more people may arrive together, for example members of the same family.  If you already know the person you're communicating with, you may have formed opinions about the person. We want you to start fresh with a clean slate. No baggage. 

6. Communication is via email that is passed through a proxy. So the system operators keep and can read a copy of all communication, and can ask both of you questions, or suggest topics to discuss. We may be reading what you write, so we can better understand what the differences are and where there might be points of agreement. 

7. Nothing will be made public, unless both parties agree.

6. We ask you to try to compromise where there are strong differences. We all compromise all the time. But we go back and forth between extremes. Maybe we can find a middle ground that we can agree to long-term. 

9. A personal comment. I suspect we will find there is agreement in important areas, like taxes, health care, education. One thing we learned about in the election of 2016 is that citizens on both sides pretty much want the same thing. We've been forced onto different sides by the political parties. Unnecessarily, and with very negative consequences. At this point the qualities of the candidates are irrelevant. The election is decided. Now we can try to reach compromises and possibly find agreement that was below the surface. 

The only goal I have in proposing this is learning. I think it's possible we can change politics at the citizen-to-citizen level so we are not so manipulated by the (my opinion) ridiculous and exhausting process we currently use in the US to decide our leadership. 

I watched this interview that CNN reporter Van Jones had with a family in rural Pennsylvania before the election. It's a good first step. Let's get person-to-person. It's easy to hate people you don't know, but once they become real people, the kind of person who would help if your car broke down, it's hard to think of them as anything but good warm-hearted Americans. Period. No qualifications.

We, who voted for Hillary Clinton, are also good people. And we're hurting now, because we're worried about our future. You all elected the new government. We understand. You say we didn't listen. I believe you. But we are listening now, and we will be listening for at least the next four years. 

We are very scared about what the government will do to us. This is a fact, not in question. Good people like Warren Buffett blow right by that. It's nice that he is 100% optimistic. But that does nothing to quell the fear. He's a white Christian living in Nebraska. He might not have anything to fear. 

People say not to pay attention to the hate speech, but if it were targeted at you, you wouldn't be able to do that. 

Now is the time for the people to get together. This podcast is my first step toward that. I'm not asking you do anything other than listen. Thanks.

I don't know if this is new, but it's new to me, and I love it. 

"I am no longer accepting the things I can not change. I am changing the things I can not accept."

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It's a new version of the famous serenity prayer, for the times we live in. America now has to fight for its core values. That may turn out to have a huge silver lining. We took a lot for granted, didn't know how good we had it. Another slogan, this one from a Joni Mitchell song, "You don't know what you got till it's gone." So true.

CNN interview with Warren Buffett re the election. 

It was reassuring except he didn't talk about the hate. If you're a white Christian in the midwest, as he is, you view things differently from the rest of us. 

You can feel it in NYC. People are looking at each other wondering if the other person voted for Trump. We have a whole borough in NYC that went overwhelmingly to him. 

People are being very polite to each other. It's spooky. I want to tell them to snap out of it. You're New Yorkers! But..

People are scared. And we have to live with each other, and until this is resolved, there's going to at least be a lot of tension. If it erupts, and people are saying that it is erupting (not sure what to believe) then 100% optimistic is wishful thinking. 

At this point in the post-election, it would be reasonable for the president-elect to tell his supporters to chill out on the racism, anti-semitism, etc, but not a word from him. The stories are awful. 

Buffett should come to an ethnic area of NYC and do some serious listening. He might be a little more afraid. Cloistered in Nebraska, as he is, he might not see it. 

In contrast, hear what NBA coach Gregg Popovich said. Like Buffett, he's a self-described rich white guy. But he sees the election very differently. I think we need to clear up all the race-hate stuff, before I give Buffett a pass on this. He's a good man, for sure, and he thinks he's doing the right thing, I have no doubt about it, but he's leaving a lot of other good people, Americans, out there hanging. Not cool, imho.

I've read two things this morning that are life-changing. That's pretty good for a Saturday. And it's possible that this piece too will be similarly interesting.

First, go listen to this audio interview with NBA coach Gregg Popovich. It's very fog-clearing and uplifting. He's an amazingly clear thinker and speaker. To be as successful in the NBA as he has been, you have to be. 

Then, read this piece about living in an autocracy, by someone who has lived in one most of his life. That's what's coming in the USA if we don't do something.

But what can we do? Well the Electoral College votes on December 19. And while there is a tradition that they vote according to the way the people in their state voted, there's no Constitutional requirement that they do. 

This suggests that if an alternative was put forward, that meets the objectives of most Trump voters, without the autocracy and hate, maybe we could make some nice lemonade out of this situation. (I would also want to get the approval of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, so that Democratic voters have a say.)

Coach P got me thinking in this direction when he asked the simple question -- why are we rushing into a transition. We could instead have another campaign after some serious compromising and win-win construction. Put forward John Kasich, perhaps. He sounds like a guy who would leave office after his term was up or if he lost a reelection bid. Almost anything is better than Trump (who just wants money and attention, why can't we give him that w/o the nuclear launch codes). 

At this point who cares! Let's save our fucking country and sanity. Give Trump a Congressional Medal of Honor, Purple Heart and his own cable channel, no cost, for life. A Broadway parade and a hearty thanks from everyone in America for being a champ, and a good guy and a billionaire and a true patriot. This is what he wants. Give it to him. Give him more than he wants. 

Vox doesn't think it's workable, but let's concede the new president is a Republican, not Hillary Clinton. To make this work, she would have to request that her electors vote for the compromise candidate. I think Kasich is a good choice. We know he has guts and it's pretty clear he loves America. 

There's not much time to put it together, and a real campaign would have to be waged to make sure that the Trump voters know that we will implement the changes they wanted, and a lot of good things will happen. That's the lemonade part. wink

Thanks for listening. 

The big story of 2016 was What a President Trump Would do. Paint us an evolving picture of such a presidency, for a citizen of the US, and a citizen of the world. I asked this question repeatedly. 

Only one pub as far as I know did the story -- the New Yorker. It was a real eye-opener. I expected the author, Evan Osnos, would be on all the shows and there would be lots of follow-ups. Nope. Nothing. Back to the horserace.

When I asked why, the consensus was that the press expects Clinton to be the next president and are treating her thus. So now we have a full dossier (of mostly lies and trivia btw, the press calls these "narratives") on a person who will be a private citizen next year, and know almost nothing about the person who will be president.

That was the story. It was a real juicy one. You just had to take a deep breath and move through your fear. Once he had the Republican nomination, it could no longer be seen as a fluke, the possibility of his presidency had to be taken seriously. It wasn't.

PS: Here's my writeup of the Osnos story, in September.

This is an unusually long podcast for me, these days, about 1/2 hour. 

But, you can skip the first nine minutes. It's very rambly. But after nine minutes I get going on what I think is a powerful idea. (One of these days I should learn how to edit an audio file.)

I propose new kind of social structure that, unlike the ones we have implemented so far, is about compromise. 

We're at an interesting point in American democracy. Many of us are now highly motivated to make it work, and feel a sense of urgency we've never felt before. 

The key is to find thoughtful people with similar life stories that span the redstate-bluestate divide. Good people, who love America, and want to see what we, as citizens, can work out. 

It's all about compromise

It's emphatically not about building community, as blogging, Facebook and Twitter are, it's about building compromise. I didn't say agreement. No one changes anyone's mind. 

Two steps: 1. Understand. 2. Compromise.

We think we can't compromise, but we do it all the time. 

For example, people who are pro-life have had to accept the compromise that abortion is legal.

Another, people who were against the war in Iraq had to accept that we went to war in Iraq.

These are compromises so abhorrent that they hurt. 

Well, many of us are experiencing huge buyer's remorse after the election. What could we have done differently that would have saved us from having to give so much on things we hold so incredibly dear. 

But, on the other side, I think at least some people who voted for Trump either feel the same remorse now, or will soon. For example if you chose Trump because you wanted to "drain the swamp," less than a week after the election, you can see clearly that he's doing the exact opposite.

Now we have to learn how to listen to each other with respect, without trying to change anyone's minds, and then come to a compromise we can live with that's better than what we're going to get in the whipsawing policies between Democratic and Republican government, every eight years. We could use a little more continuity and predictability. We need to say no to the radical extremes, and try to arrive at less painful compromises, give a little to get a little. That's the way our government is designed. 

I'm looking for very very special people, not your average Internet user. If you listen to the podcast, starting at minute 9 if you're short on time, and make it to the end, you'll get the idea. I think it's worth your time, of course, but it's totally your call.

A very dark piece from Andrew Sullivan, totally worth reading. 

He gives voice to the fears we have about what will result from Trump's presidency. 

I only have a couple of comments for now, one trivial and the other not.

The Republican Party will be re-made

1. Sullivan says we won't be able to deprive Trump of Congress for four years, but technically that's not true. There will be midterm elections in 2018, and 1/3 of the Senate and all of the House will be up. 

The House is gerrymandered so that the Repubs own it, and many of the Senators up for reelection in 2018 are Democrats in red states. 

But between then and now the Republican Party will be re-made. It's conceivable that some part of what's left will be opposed to Trump. 

He'll easily slip out of his promises

2. Sullivan says that Trump has to deliver on his promises, build a wall, repeal ObamaCare and replace it with something better, bring millions of jobs back, etc. 

He says it's a long list, and not easily achievable.

But come on, we saw how deft Trump is at moving on from from controversy. 

He can repeal ObamaCare by getting rid of the worst parts (so he will say) and replace it with TrumpCare which contains just the good parts. He'll present it as something all new. What he'll care about is putting his name on it (and in a very weird pun Obama won't care).

He'll fess up that no one really thought he would actually build a wall. It'll never be an issue. His supporters don't care about the actual wall. It was something to focus on during the campaign. 

People don't know that Obama is deporting illegals. Trump won't tell them. He'll just provide the numbers that he's deporting and say they're the worst ones, real rapists and murderers, and call it progress, and that "issue" will fade away too.

Bush II was very good at this, coming up with slogans like "don't micro-manage" or talking about the "surge" in Iraq. And that would lead to the next slogan and the one after that. Trump is way better at being slippery than Bush ever was. 

I agree with the scenario that Sullivan describes. There will be a terror attack. A Black Lives Matter protest will turn violent. Order will need to be restored. This is predictable. And he's right that the only hope is to protect the courts, and hope the police and military stand up for the Constitution. Like Sullivan I am worried about this, esp because there was a lot of support for Trump in the police and military. 

He will probably want to impeach Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he even mentioned her in a debate.

What does he actually want to do?

The thing I really worry about is what Trump wants to do now, not what he told the voters he wanted to do. And we won't have much visibility into that. We'll just get the results and the blowback.

During the election I had a theory that Trump was like the Joker chasing cars. I still think it's pretty likely that his goal was to win the election, not to do anything with the job. 

From the department of Wishful Thinking

Watch out for Trump 2.0 without all the baggage. Four or eight years from now. Heh. Didn't happen that way. We got the prize four years early.

You can't miss what you never knew you had

Entitlement and a false sense of security are embedded into the current generations of America. A country with totalitarian experience, given the choice we had yesterday, would never have chosen this path. 

However, once we appreciate the power of the choice, we will no longer have it.

We haven't had to fight for our freedom, despite all the hype about the current wars, since WWII. We didn't even pay for them (the Repub admin that started it put them on a credit card, hired volunteers, there was no draft, no pain for Americans who could afford to not sign up).

The people who used their vote to "send a message" imho will eventually wish they had used it instead to hire a competent fair-minded person to manage the economy and keep us out of wars, as our system was designed to force them to do. And one who would willingly leave office when their term is up. 

BTW, the title of this section is a riff on the title of a Muddy Waters song.

How long before President Trump starts a war?

Will he wait until he takes the oath of office?

Will Trump leave gracefully?

Embedded in the speeches given by Obama and Clinton today was the hope that when it's time for Trump to leave office, there will be an election (he suggested during the campaign that we shouldn't bother) and that if he loses, he will be anything near as graceful as Clinton.

Watch out for people who give good concession speeches

When Kerry lost in 2004, I was driving from Seattle to the Bay Area, and heard his speech a dozen times on the radio. Here's what I wrote then.

Listened to Kerry's concession speech about a dozen times on the radio. It was great. Next time, be careful about nominating a guy who gives a great concession speech. The best concession speech is an overdose of sleeping pills, or a self-inflicted bullet wound in the head. You want a guy who can't conceive of losing. The Democrats have had too many great losers. I want a great winner in 2008.

The FBI/Russian coup

I couldn't help but feel today, watching Obama, that he's being a gentleman, but he doesn't have a choice. After we saw what the FBI did, and what the Russians did, there's no choice for him but to go easily. The military would escort him off the premises if he didn't. Pretty sure that wouldn't happen with Trump.

Will Trump jail Hillary?

He said he would on the debate stage, with tens of millions of people watching. He wasn't hiding his intentions. With the Lock Her Up chants at his rallies which he encouraged it's almost a campaign promise. 

Remember what Maya Angelou said: When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.

Good morning!

I really didn't want to get out of bed today, but I saw a question from a former colleague, John Palfrey, who is now the headmaster at Phillips Academy, and that got me up, and thinking. He was looking for suggestions on what to say to his students this morning. 

Last night I was talking on the phone and via chat with two young people, about the age of his students, who I am close to. They looked to me to help them process this. Both are sweet earnest people, who want to do good, and have a great deal of empathy and intelligence. The best I could come up with is this: The world is basically always tottering on the edge of catastrophe. Sometimes you can see it, other times it's hidden. Clearly the last few years have been a lot more dangerous than we've appreciated. So the best thing to do is to do the most good you can, for others and for yourself, and enjoy life the best you can. An older friend said that to me many years ago, when I was their age.

It's not like anyone gets out of this alive (one of my favorite lines for dire situations). 

I of course have read much of what has been written about last night's event, and the story that left the greatest impression so far is Maureen Dowd's column in the NY Times. She talked with her brother, who lives in Maryland, who voted for Trump. He explained why he voted for him, and it was an eye-opener. Basically "I was tired of the Clintons." Tired  probably isn't a strong enough word. 

A couple of thoughts about that. 

The voters of Indiana similarly rejected Evan Bayh, an ex-Senator of theirs. At first he was thought to be a shoe-in, much as Hillary was, but eventually the voters decided they didn't want to go back, and chose the devil they don't know over the one they are tired of. 

Second thought, and this really shook me -- I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 for the very same reason. I was exhausted by eight years of Clinton. As much as the scandals were Republican inventions, the way Clinton handled it really pissed me off. And the lack of respect for the institution of the Presidency. The image of him getting a blow job in the Oval Office was something I would expect to read in Penthouse letters, not in the Washington Post and the New York Times. 

I know HIllary is not Bill, that's why I was a fervent supporter of hers, but I know the feeling. It wasn't just the Lewinsky affair and the lies about it that got me, it was also his signing of the Communication Decency Act. The willingness to cut corners, to stand for nothing. So I voted for Bush, and lived to regret it. By 2004, I was working for Kerry. 

If I had to do it over again, there's no question that I would vote for Al Gore. These kinds of tradeoffs are no good. You always vote for the most intelligent and principled person you can for a job like president. You don't use your vote for president to "send a message." It's too important. That's how you get presidents like Bush and now Trump.

What will happen now? A lot of sleazy awful people will be leading our country. I thought we were done with all the Trump surrogates, but it's just beginning. Now MSNBC won't have a choice but to give them airtime, they will be the executive branch of the United States. But they had a choice the last few months. They could have devoted time on each show to getting expert opinions on what a Trump presidency would be like. Might have shaken a few of the third-party voters into voting for Hillary and we'd be facing a different, better reality this morning. Even if it didn't, as they say, you had one job to do and you didn't do it. The journalist's job, as they seem to have forgotten, is to provide their users with information about the events of the day. That doesn't just include the salacious and mockable rantings of a TV reality star playing the part of presidential candidate, they must give a voice to and represent the interests of the people who would be governed by such a person. They did not in any way do that. 

I think this is the final straw, the one that finally broke the back of American journalism. They really did this number on us. They could have made sure the Comey letter didn't get the play it didn't deserve. Didn't make it out to be what it obviously was, a small part of the government putting its finger on the scale for one candidate. That was the story, and that clearly was the turning point for the campaign. Hillary didn't run a great campaign, but it was starting to get great. Instead all the energy transferred to Trump. He found his bearing, and campaigned like a champ for the last week and a half of the campaign. I don't think he would have won if he hadn't gotten that injection of purpose. 

Of course the press supported Trump through the entire campaign, the same way they kept reminding us in 2000 what a jerk Gore is, even though the stories they kept repeating were garbage, not true, or trivial, insignificant. They kept telling us Hillary has trust issues. How do they know? Well we keep saying it, it must be true. In fact, and they knew she was a very trustworthy candidate. And probably would have been a great president. We were cheated, and we know who cheated us. 

I know this piece isn't well-organized. My thoughts this morning are not well-organized. I'm going to publish it anyway.

Update: Here's what Palfrey said to his students.

I have to go to sleep, and when I wake up I expect that Trump will be the president-elect. I tried listening to the analysts on the various TV stations, finally they're sobering up, but they haven't figured out that, even now, they're not asking the right questions. 

So why did this happen?

I don't think it's about economics, I think it's about change happening too fast. And the Trump voters had the power to bring it to a screeching halt, they saw the chance and took it. 

The changes are: 1. Technology, 2. Gay marriage, 3. A black president and 4. A woman presidential candidate. 

Imho, that's what this election was about. That's why we're seeing the explosive and probably destructive change we're about to go through. Why we're going to have a president who will at best bumble through his job as he did the job of candidate. But he can bumble for four years, and there isn't anything we can do about it. 

And he can do much more than bumble. He can put his opponent in jail. He can put us in jail. The military likes him, as does the FBI. As do the police, and I'm sure the NSA and CIA. And we know the Russians like him. And we have not much of an idea of who he is. Remember, we never got to see his tax returns. There was a reason to want to see them. 

For me, it's disturbing because everything I planned to do professionally and creatively doesn't seem to make sense anymore. 

And change won't wait until the inauguration, it'll start tomorrow. Actually it's already started.

I'd like to put this program on pause now, and resume it when I'm ready to deal with it, and of course I can't. And that's probably exactly what the people who voted for Trump were thinking. 

We now have multiple streams on tonight in time for watching election returns. They are ABC, NBC, Vice, PBS and Bloomberg News. Hope you can join us tonight. And good luck America! blush

On a panel on MSNBC last night, Steve Schmidt, a Republican consultant, said the question for American workers wasn't that jobs were being shipped overseas. That's last century's problem. Today's concern is that automation replacing a lot of workers, and it's about to accelerate. A lot more Americans are going to be out of work next time around. 

Trump didn't mention it because the smart people in the Republican Party either weren't advising him, or he wasn't listening. And Hillary didn't mention it because it's true, I'm sure she knows it, but she doesn't have an answer. 

Silicon Valley readers, the political cursor is about to swing around to you. This is something you should be prepared for. If we're lucky and Clinton is elected today, we get a chance to reason through it. Otherwise, it might not go so smoothly. 

And congrats to Schmidt for bringing this up, and thanks for waiting until it could no longer be weaponized for the 2016 election. 

You hear Repubs saying it's impossible to scan 650,000 emails in nine days looking for confidential information. Now there must be some Republican developers out there who can explain to your marketing people that they're wrong about this. 

The algorithm

I'm going to describe a simple algorithm that does it.

Assume you have two folders, call them A and B. 

You want to eliminate the duplicates in folder B. 

You need to set up a database, and since the data set is relatively small, you can probably do it in-memory. 

First create an object called hashcodes. 

    var hashcodes = new Object ();

Loop over folder A. For each file, read it, 

    var fileContent = file.readWholeFile (f);

and compute a hash code from its contents. 

    var theCode = CryptoJS.MD5 (fileContent);

Add it to the object.

    hashcodes [theCode] = true; 

Note that the value doesn't matter, it could be false, or 0, whatever. We never use it.

Now loop over folder B. Compute the hashcode for each file, call it x, and see if it exists in folder A, as follows:

    var fileExists = hashcodes [x] !== undefined;

You could delete it if it exists, because it's a duplicate.

If they're all dupes, folder B will be empty after the script runs.

I'd be surprised if it takes more than a minute on an average laptop.


The question isn't how long it takes to review 650,000 emails, rather it's how long it takes to review the new emails. 

They say we're not great, well fuck you. We love this country, it's not perfect but it wasn't meant to be. Like software, it's a process. It'll get better, just watch! blush

A picture named unclesam.png

I have a friend who has JavaScript turned off, but he wants to read Scripting News and would prefer to not have to turn it on just to read this site. He is a friend, and it was easy to do, so I set it up so the site will work without JS turned on.

But here's the thing, that means that if you have it turned on, you'll see a flash of the Blog panel, if you have one of the other tabs pre-selected. We remember your panel and it's the same next time you visit. Some people come for the river or the links. I want to accommodate them too, and as a esthetic matter it really bothers me that there's this flash.

I bet this is confusing, so I recorded a short video demo.

So this is a case where people who have JS turned on experience something kind of ugly for the benefit of people who have it turned off.

So the question is this -- is there a way to specify that code be run before anything is displayed?

BTW, my guess is that this is not possible, so I have a Plan B in mind. wink

Another great political speech to share...

They say when you love someone you should tell them.

Well this was when I fell in love with Jennifer Granholm.

And every time she speaks the love deepens.

Unfortunately she is married. Damn.

Lucky guy!

If you're looking for inspiration as this presidential campaign winds down, I highly recommend this speech, March 18, 2008, by then-Senator Barack Obama, about race in America. 

I just listened to the first two parts of a three-part FiveThirtyEight podcast that was great and stirring.

I would certainly recommend the Obama/Wright podcast for a reminder of how hard it was for this country to elect a black president, and what an extraordinary person he is. It documents the speech then-Senator Obama gave after recordings of Rev Wright had become a public controversy. What a speech, and it was so true, and it's still true today. Very personal. And on-topic now because we have a chance as a country to re-affirm that choice we made in 2008, or revert to our racist past. We're as enmeshed in race today as much as we were then. 

Then I listened to the podcast about the Dean Scream. They observed that it likely would have happened differently if we had social media then that we have now. It's funny because there's an untold part of that story, that social media was ready to step in, but the top people on the Dean Campaign didn't know that. I was there that night, and we had the means to go around the TV networks even in 2004, before Twitter and before Facebook. Here's the story, briefly.

I was at Dean Headquarters in Burlington as an observer. I was a Berkman fellow at the time, in nearby Boston, and we were following the New Hampshire primary closely as part of the development work we were doing. 

I didn't have a candidate at that time, but I was of course interested in the Dean campaign because they were using blogs so effectively. I also knew a couple of people there, and made new friends that day, and they trusted me enough to give me the password to their blog, and I was posting during the returns from the Iowa caucus that night. It was a thrill and an honor. 

I was there when the scream was broadcast, and replayed, and here's the thing, there was audio available for publishing, on the web, and they had the distribution ability through their much-watched blog. It would have shown what they explained in the 2016 podcast. The story could have been killed. I have no doubts of that. But it didn't happen. 

I had a chance to ask Howard Dean himself about this, at the DNC later that year, at the blogger's breakfast. A lot of my blogging friends were there. Dean said it didn't matter because they had already lost the nomination at that point, but with all due respect I don't remember it that way. We got Kerry as the nominee. I don't think Dean would have done any better against the Repubs. They could probably have found something to stick on him that would scare people. At that time the Dems were doing a pretty good job of that without any help.

Quickly, it was stupid imho for Apple to denude the new MacBooks of the usual jacks and plugs because the people who buy these products are basically people who work for Apple and pay for the privilege of doing so. 

You wouldn't remove an important benefit for your employees without concern for whether they'd quit? You all should be thinking that way about these users. 

They could quit by switching to Microsoft or a Chromebook (I hear both are getting better, btw), or in the way a spouse quits a loveless marriage. They might stay, physically, but you lost their hearts, they might as well be gone for all the benefit you will get from their presence. 

These people should be walking around with huge grins saying "Man I wish Apple would make more products like this so I can buy them and tell everyone how great they are."

This goes back to the beginnings of my bloggings when I wrote about Apple as a loveless house and predicted that developers would eventually stop making babies. They're all on-topic once again. The scale is much larger now of course.

It's been four days since I posted asking whether Microsoft Teams interops with Slack. What little I've heard indicates that it doesn't, that there is no meaningful interop.

Microsoft has clearly positioned Teams as a Slack-alike or Slack-killer. Maybe they don't use those words, but the message comes through anyway. They want their product to be compared to Slack. And Slack has taken the bait, running a full-page ad in the NY Times that's similar to the one Apple ran when the IBM PC shipped in 1981. I'm sure that's what they were thinking of. Really bad idea, imho. Why? Because Microsoft has to earn the right to say they're competitive with Slack. And since Slack is more of a backplane than an app, if you don't interop with it, well you've kind of missed the point of Slack. It's all about interop.

The old Microsoft, the one I knew in the 80s and 90s not would have missed this. They would have latched onto every bit of openness in Slack. At the outset, advertise how it's not either-or, it's and. Your team members can use either Slack or Teams to participate in a formerly Slack-only network. That would have been a reason for Slack to run the full-page ad, maybe. Or sell out to a bigger company quickly so they can match Microsoft with distribution and financial strength. 

And it's important to note that if Microsoft had chosen the embrace-extend model, that would have been a win for the open web, at least a temporary one, which is another reason I asked the question. It takes a second vendor to ratify Slack's open protocol to give them a real chance of being a standard. Support from Microsoft would have certainly helped. 

Since I haven't heard from either company a definitive yes or no, the possibility is still there that Microsoft did chose the interop path.

BTW, the victory is only temporary for the open web if neither company dominates, esp not the bigger one, Microsoft. If they do, they're likely to use their power in the market to add special features that only work in their product. So it's in the interest of the market that it be a two-party system. I've written about that many times in other contexts.

I'll turn the comments on in this post if people have information they can add that sheds light on compatibility between the two products. As usual the comment guidelines apply. I delete comments that don't respect them. 

I added a new Rivers section to the sidebar that you access through the hamburger icon on the Scripting News home page.

A picture named riversection.png

One of the reasons I moved the links over there is so that I would have more room to add to it. I have a large collection of sites, apps and repositories, and I want to make them easier to find.

And since the source for that is in OPML there are other places I can put it as well. It's good to use open formats, they allow you to build bigger things. 

I've read Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight steadily for the last few months, and have been reading all the news reports I can get my hands on, esp Josh Marshall and Matt Yglesias, watching MSNBC mostly, and of course reading the angst from my social media friends who are all appear to be Clinton supporters. So that's where my input is coming from.

Now I want to tell you something.

I have a very strong feeling that it's in the bag for Hillary, that she's already won the election, despite all of Nate Silver's caution about polling errors. 

I think there's one very important thing that the polls can't measure. 

And it is this...

Voting for Trump is an act of insanity. 

I see this as fact, not opinion. 

And, a bunch of Trump voters, when it comes time to flip the lever, are going to say wait a minute, that felt good for a while, but I can't actually do this, and they'll vote for Clinton, because..

Voting for Clinton, while it may not be inspiring for some, it is the sane thing to do, and it's also the right thing to do.

Now I don't know if this will happen to a large number Trump voters, but it'll happen to enough to make this an easy win for Hillary. The states we think will be close won't. She'll win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada and Colorado. All of them.

That's what I think is going to happen. My stake is in the ground. I could be wrong. I often am. But I wanted to say it publicly since it is such a strong feeling. 

PS: Please don't take this so seriously that you don't vote. I am voting on Tuesday. You must too! 

PPS: I just gave another $100 to

Facebook has an "on this day in" feature, similar to a feature with the same name I used to have on Scripting News until it became too much of a burden to review 10, then 15, then 20 years of archives every day. Sometimes Facebook uncovers something I wrote only on Facebook that really should be out on the open web. Here's such a piece written on this day last year, the full text of which appears below.

I was once at a workshop where we all hung out in a room together for 48 hours, mostly strangers, people who had never met before. About 20 people. All ages, male and female.

The format -- we all talk, supposedly just about ourselves, but since it was 48 hours long, it got personal, at times very personal.

At one point I was challenged by a young man, a frequent thing you hear from them, Why do you think you know so much more than me? I had never said that I know more than anyone, I wasn't talking about him, just about myself. I was more than twice his age, so I assumed he was referring to my age.

I asked how old he was. 22. I asked if he had learned anything since he was 12. Yes, of course. Do you think learning stops at 22. A long answer but basically yes. At this age, he believed, he fully understood how everything works.

Well, we have to tiptoe around this bug of youth. I'm 60, and a man in his thirties gave me a very long personal lecture via email about my character flaws. I said to him that I don't want to get embroiled with him, that took one sentence. In the second sentence, I indulged in a little advice since he gave advice so freely to me.

"Try to let it roll off you, that's what I do."

That's all I said. I thought it was good advice. And yes at 60 I do think I know more than you about life.

I'm really tired of tip-toeing around the weak egos of the young folk. I'm going to try to not do it so much.

Thanks for listening.

PS: One of the best comments on the Facebook post came from Liz Terry. "You seem to be a wanker-magnet." She's obviously British. I said in response that I was going to put that on my business card. I don't actually have a business card.

PPS: That same day I linked to an image of unknown origin that made me LOL again. 

Hillary Clinton was interviewed on the Today Show in April 1992 when Bill Clinton was running for president for the first time. He was the front-runner in the Democratic primary. 

It's a real eye-opener. She was so smart, so filled with potential and excitement. She was about to get killed in Washington, you could see that in this interview. But it tells you a lot about who she is, underneath the careful exterior of 2016. 

This is really worth a watch.

Trump voters, you are being scammed.

Put me firmly in the camp of people who don't understand how a sane person could choose DJ Trump over HR Clinton. I know we're supposed to try to understand you guys, I preach that myself, and I listen, I really do, but what I hear doesn't make any sense to my coastal elite mind. 

First, your complaints about the press.

I get it. You know how I get it? I feel exactly the same way. They don't listen to me either. They don't even bother to find out who I am. All they know is I'm not a journalist or a pundit or a candidate or pollster or political operator, therefore my opinion can't possibly matter. It's a shame because I see things they don't see, understand things they don't. So that isn't something special about people who live in the middle of the country. I want to blow up journalism. I think your candidate proves that we have to do that if we want to have a future. But he won't do it. Why should he? They're the reason he has a future in politics! Despite all the ugly things he says about them, get this -- he likes them. All he has to do is be entertaining, and they put him on TV. 

The press isn't so much "corrupt," they're scared and lazy and unimaginative and foremost they're employees. They work for the same guys that the Republicans and Trump (btw) do. You think they're going to look out for you? Hah! No they're not going to do that. They're going to look after the interests of their billionaire clients. Why? So they can retire with a fat bank account, and be one of them. You're going to get screwed just like before because you're buying the hype from the very same people who screwed you last time. So please spare me the bullshit about how what you're doing is a movement. Talk to me again in a few months if your guy wins. 

Am I being scammed by voting for Hillary? Yes I guess so, but to a lesser extent than you are. I'm getting something out of this, health insurance. I like ObamaCare. I have a pre-existing condition. Before ObamaCare, I basically had to live in Massachusetts, the only state that had ObamaCare before the country did. 

Your guy is playing a dangerous ugly game with your health. You need insurance too. And you might lose it if Trump is elected, and the Repubs are actually stupid enough to try to repeal ObamaCare. If they do, there's your proof that they don't love you. ObamaCare is for you and me. The rich guys hate it because they're babies. If it doesn't benefit them they don't want you to have it. Do you know Mr Burns on The Simpsons? That's who Trump really is. And his backers, even more so.

And Hillary is paid by the same people, but they don't like her (that's why they're backing Trump) not because they don't like the way she dresses or the way she looks or sounds, it's because she's also going to invest in rebuilding infrastructure and education and btw, those things do something that you say you want -- they create jobs, American jobs. Jobs for you and your family. She has a track record there. You might want to look past the bullshit your candidate spews and find out.

It might not be totally too late yet. 

Your supposed friends have already moved their money out of the US. They don't give a shit if you have a job. They just want to continue raiding the treasury of the US. As soon as they're done you won't hear from them again.

So go ahead and vote Republican if you must. But you won't have my respect. I think you're selling us out, in the worst way. If you vote for Hillary things will continue more or less as they have. If you vote for Hillary and a Democratic Congress, you'll get those jobs and your kids will get educated and if they get sick they'll get health care. That's the difference that matters. Forget the other stuff, about how relatable they are. You aren't hiring someone to take you out for coffee, you're hiring someone to run the economy and keep us out of wars. 

I've got a bug on the home page of Scripting News.

If you click in a tab, it should bring that tab to the front.

It does that, if you're not pointing directly at the title of the tab.

Here's a tiny video demo.

The problem was introduced recently.

At first I thought it might have something to do with the hamburger icon, but if I disabled it, the problem persists.

My current theory is that it has to do with z-index values.

But I can't see anything obviously wrong there. But I did have to screw around with that for the snap.js stuff. That part of it didn't get disabled. Hmmm.

If you have any ideas, please post a comment here. 

Problem solved

I got some great advice, and figured out how to get all that I wanted and restore the functionality of the links in the tabs. I explained how in this comment.

This post on FiveThirtyEight is worth calling out for being sensationalist and linkbaitish, if you ask me. 

Harry Enten says that Trump is just a polling error behind Clinton.

I'm not questioning if it's factual, but imho it's unnecessarily alarming because:

  • You can lose the popular vote and still win the election. Both campaigns if they're well-run, deploy resources according to whether or not it gets them more electoral votes. Gore won the popular vote in 2000, for example, but lost the election. Another way of saying it: A vote in Florida counts more than a vote in California or Wyoming.
  • It doesn't take into account turnout. I've listened to their podcast, and they say that they don't know if turnout is baked into the numbers they use. Do Clinton votes count more in polls than Trump votes because she likely has a more effective turnout effort? They don't know what the polls they're basing their number on do re turnout.

Anyway, the goal is not to get the most votes, it's to get the most electoral votes. The number he's citing is popular votes. 

This post by Nate Silver in 2011 backs me up on this, btw. wink

PS: Before you rush to call me wrong, yes he does say it's the popular vote, but he doesn't appear to say that by itself it's a meaningless number. 

Most people who use seem to have mastered the basics of creating and editing posts, but I see people struggling with images. 

So I recorded a 15-minute demo showing how I do images, on my Mac using Apple's Preview app.

I did the video without a script, so it's a bit rambly at times, but I hope it helps anyway.

If you have questions, I've turned on comments for this post.

The FBI leaks in favor of Trump are very disturbing. Possibly the most disturbing thing about this election, and that's saying a lot.

How long have they been acting in Trump's interest?

What other non-political government organizations are acting to influence the outcome of the election?  (We understand that the Congress and the president are political.)

I don't care who they vote for as citizens. But I am totally appalled that I have to know who they support, and that they don't have enough respect for this country and its principles to keep their personal politics out of their jobs. 

And the fishing expedition they are indulging themselves in, who gave them the right? 

We have a civilian government. This is not a police state. 

They violate a basic American value: the presumption of innocence.

The FBI has to be cleaned up. What a mess. This is unacceptable. Of course if they get their wish and Trump is elected, this will become the norm. All government organizations will be political. Elections will be meaningless. 

Ironically, they seem to be committing much more serious crimes than anything they are suggesting that Clinton has done. Trying to throw the election, that's got to be a felony. (I am of course not a lawyer.)

We can't even argue with them (or indict them). Who are they? We don't know. 

How dishonorable. And un-American.

We have truly lost our way.

My longtime friend Dave Jacobs is from Chicago, and a lifetime, long-suffering Cubs fan. I've been emailing with him during the series. This morning I wanted to see if I ever felt the way he must feel today, and I found something. Here's what I wrote him just now. 

Dave, of course even though I was rooting for the Cubs, they are not my team. So I don't feel the closure you must feel. I tried to remember how I felt in 1969 and 1986, but it wasn't the same thing. In 1969, I was too young to understand that the world wasn't magical that way. It just seemed the way it should be, that the Mets go from being the worst team ever to winning the World Series, in a few short years. And in 1986 I was in Calif, and busy with my company, and while I did get to share it with other Mets fans, I couldn't focus on it for more than a day or two. And while 1986 was as much of a miracle as 1969, the Mets never had a drought anything like the one the Cubs just broke.

So I tried to figure out when I had a feeling like the one you must have today, and I believe found it. 

A picture named howIFelt.png

It's somehow very connected to this whole thing.

I've gotten some great help from Scripting News readers in comments under my post about changes to the home page. 

Now I've made changes to the phone version of story pages, and would like to find out how it works for you.

Here's a screen shot showing what a story page looks like in the phone version. Here's a link to the story, so you can see what it looks like on the device (or computer) you're reading it on now.

In the phone version, I changed the font size on the body text, and moved it down below the top portion of the page. Somehow it had ended up writing over it? Sorry about that. 

I also made the dark background for the text a little taller, and constrained the text to fit within it. The text was also, in some circumstances, overwriting the right edge of the screen causing it to scroll. If it still does that, that's a problem, and please post a comment here, let me know how wide your display is, so I can see what's going wrong.

The obligatory "CSS sucks" disclaimer. It's the worst way to design the look of a page, but it's also the best one I know how to use. Someday I will do a story page rendering that uses flexboxes. But not today. blush

If you're in Wisconsin, vote for Russ Feingold. 

He's as good as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. 

You're going to love him. wink

Microsoft's strategy of Embrace and Extend is well-documented in the archive of this blog. It's how a second or third entrant in a market gains access to the users of the earlier products (embrace) and how, once they've become the leader, they take users with them without sharing them with competitors (extend). This approach really worked for them in the 80s and 90s. But then they lost their hunger, and the tables got turned on them in subsequent decades. 

So now they've shipped a product clearly aimed at Slack, which has become a juggernaut largely by being a backplane for bot-like apps. Slack, as we explored here in the summer of 2015, got there by having a wonderfully open and web-like API. They are to be commended for this.

So the big question for Microsoft and for the future of the market is this: Do they interop with Slack? Can I use the Microsoft client without forcing my teammates to adopt it? Can they continue to use Slack while I use Microsoft? If so, they will certainly gain a user base. 

And, if they interop, then Microsoft is returning to a playbook that worked for them once, and (my belief) probably would work again.

A lower level of interop would be the ability to run Slack-compatible apps. That would mean they wouldn't have to be rewritten to work in Microsoft's new environment. That means more utility for users. But it's more work for Microsoft. 

BTW, the Microsoft of the 2000s would have considered this a silly question. We're Microsoft, people interop with us, not vice versa. That didn't work very well. Humility is a good trait, even for market-dominant giants. 

A simple thought.

We had plenty of warning Trump was coming.

I made sure to document it, when I realized it.

I remember exactly where I was when it dawned on me that we had a bigger problem than I had previously imagined.

I was driving from Seattle to Palo Alto on the day after Election Day in 2004. I was going to run the third BloggerCon at Stanford. I had taken up residence in Seattle, so I would have a meaningful vote. Washington was a swing state that year.

I was driving through the mountains when the results were coming in, bad radio reception, so I didn't know what had happened until I checked into a dim motel in Medford and watched in disgust, awe, fear, etc that my fellow Americans had voted for another four years of war. I couldn't believe, given a choice we had signed up for more of that. But we did.

I recorded a podcast the next morning, in my car, as I did in those days. The actual MP3 is lost to me (maybe someone has a copy? -- it was found!) but I remember what I said. We have to figure out what the Bush voters are saying. They have something to say and it's not making sense to me. It can't be they want this war to go on. [The war was immoral, imho -- we paid for it with debt, not taxes, and there was no draft, so the pain of war was not felt by those who could afford to keep their kids out of the military. And by now we know the foundation of the war, that there were WMDs in Iraq, was a lie.]

And sure enough we paid the price in the financial collapse of 2008. And the moral collapse we're experiencing now full-force in 2016. Thing is, the collapse was well under way in 2004, and of course earlier. But we kept on going as if nothing happened. When we elected Obama in 2008, I remember thinking I can afford to look away now, it's going to get under control. And it did, for a couple of years. But the problem didn't go away, it got deeper and more organized. Opportunists arose to feed it and off it. 

So the question is, fellow elite coastal intellectual types, if we dodge the bullet this time, are we going to tune out again, only to wait for the next stronger version of the wave, or are we going to find out what the people in the country want, and try to negotiate? Climate change may not be the biggest threat as we all thought it was. The war that our fellow Americans want may kill us first.

And of course if we don't dodge the bullet who the hell knows what comes next. It won't be good. 

PS: John Harnett found the podcast on! Amazing. So I was able to link up the word podcast to restored MP3. It's a little confusing but I'm glad to get it back. Thanks! 

To my server-developer friends.. 

Don't you think it's other-worldly that the big "scandal" of this election has to do with a person running their own server?

How do you think this will affect other people wanting to run their own servers? Make them more or less interested?

Maybe it'll become like driving an off-road-vehicle?

1. The Clinton emails show a Secretary of State interacting with other people in the way of people who run large organizations do. There's nothing surprising there. It's exactly what you would expect. 

2. Clinton ran her own email server, as did the two previous Secretaries of States, both Republicans, neither of whom were investigated by Congress.

3. Whether or not you blame her for the deaths of four diplomats in Benghazi, Colin Powell, the Republican Secretary of State in 2003, is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths when he told the United Nations and the American people that Iraq had WMDs, thereby forming the basis for the war in Iraq. At the outset, not only did Clinton believe him, I did too. Most of us did, with reservations. When a high-ranking officer of your country says a war-starting country like Iraq has nuclear weapons, what choice do you have but to believe him? (BTW, this is one of the reasons we're so concerned about Trump as president, we would have no choice but to live with the consequences of him going to war as well.) Many hundreds of thousands of people died as result of Powell's lies. I hold him accountable even if the Republicans don't. 

4. I don't know if she destroyed emails, I've only ever heard Trump say that, not anyone else, and I don't think Trump ever tells the truth (or if he does it's the same way a broken clock is correct twice a day). But I remember when the Republicans were caught deleting 22 million very relevant emails, having to do with firings of US Attorneys covering up for some horrible crimes committed by Karl Rove, political director at the Bush White House. We knew about it, but it didn't make headlines. And the entire White House was using a private email server for emails they didn't want to be evidence in an investigation that clearly should have happened but didn't.

The "email scandal" was manufactured by Republicans to try to win the election. If she hadn't run for president I am sure there would be no FBI investigation. They have convinced Comey I guess that they can make him part of the scandal unless he bends over to do their bidding, which he has done. One party is willing to do any damage to the country to get their way. 

I would love to see Comey get up, after the election (for now he should STFU and let us try to have an election without the interference of the FBI) and admit he was wrong, and reaffirm that the FBI is non-partisan. After that we have to do something to reign in the Republicans, so they start acting in the interests of the country.