The Column

Monday, May 31, 2010

'Quit Facebook Day' looks like a flop

Looks like someone started a movement out there, and it ain't moving:

'Quit Facebook Day' Looks Like a Flop: "Today is 'Quit Facebook Day,' and it you haven't heard of it—or have no plans to walk away from your 437 friends—you're not alone. PC Magazine reports that the effort to get the masses to abandon the social networking site looks like a bust. A recent survey of..."

Now hear this: You don't do something like this because it's cool. You don't do something like this because everybody else is doing so.

If you get the urge to quit Facebook (like I did), you do so 'cause you're ticked off, 'cause your own ox got gored, or 'cause you yourself have decided the social medium is more trouble than it's worth. That's all. You might write about it (again, like I did), but you don't start a movement.

Got all that? Good. 

The herd mentality is alive and well, but sometimes the folks don't herd.


What is it about South Carolina and sex scandals?

Yeah, yeah, so people may be wondering what it is about South Carolina. First, Gov. Mark Sanford didn't hike the Appalachian Trail. Now, some blogger is saying he had something going on with guberatorial candidate (and Republican frontrunner) Nikki Haley.

And The New York Times, that stodgy newspaper from way back, is picking up on it. Here's the skinny from NewsBusters:

N.Y. Times Published Unproven Adultery Claims of Nikki Haley -- After a John Edwards Blackout: "

Clay Waters of MRC's Times Watch project noticed this week that the The New York Times was just as guilty as The Washington Post of jumping on the unsubstantiated adultery charges against female GOP gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley in South Carolina:

[Reporter Shaila] Dewan used the sex scandal of former South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford as an excuse to suggest, without substance like emails or phone messages, that the claims by blogger Will Folks fit a pattern of sexual bad behavior in the Palmetto State:  “Scandal Rattles Politics In South Carolina, Again.” The text box to Wednesday's print story worked in the party identification: “A blogger says he had an affair with a G.O.P. candidate for governor.”

The treatment of a fairly obscure Republican politician stands in sharp contrast to the paper's blackout of the amply documented affair of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. The Times totally ignored the Edwards affair until the candidate himself confessed on ABC News, then, when its own public editor criticized the paper's lack of coverage, editors made hypocritical excuses.

Dewan certainly didn't do much hedging around the claims of blogger Will Folks, relaying the accusation with a tone of near-giddiness:

Virginia may be for lovers, but sultry South Carolina is beginning to earn a reputation as the state for extramarital madness.

This state was just starting to shake off the embarrassing spectacle of Gov. Mark Sanford, who is limping out of office after admitting to an affair last year, giving late-night hosts a new laugh line with his initial cover-up: that he had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

But now, one of Mr. Sanford’s political allies -- who is a top contender to succeed him -- finds herself embroiled in a possible sex scandal of her own.

Only two weeks before a highly competitive Republican primary for governor, the candidate, State Representative Nikki Haley, has been hit by charges, leveled by one of her supporters, that she had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with him three years ago.

On Tuesday the supporter, Will Folks, a blogger and political consultant, promised to document claims that he had had a relationship with Ms. Haley.

Ms. Haley, who leapt to frontrunner status last week, days after an endorsement by Sarah Palin, issued a strong denial, saying, “I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage.”

A couple of thoughts here. Nothing's proved yet, and the accuser, a Columbia-based blogger named Will Folks, who calls himself "Sic Willie," is highly suspect. Check out his blog (which he bills as "unfair, imbalanced") sometime. Folks himself -- well, the word is he's pretty sketchy. Don't know whether it's his 2005 guilty plea to a domestic violence charge  or his "hot as hell" description of Haley in 2008 that feeds this. 

According to Sic Willie:

"We’re frequently accused of showing a little too much love to S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley, to which we can only say “we wish” (ba doom ching) ... but seriously, why wouldn’t we show love to Nikki? In addition to being one of the few fiscal conservatives in state government willing to stand up for what she believes in, Haley is hot as hell, people, and if showering her with our unceasing affection is wrong, we don’t wanna be right ..."

Folks sounds like one of those NATO types to me:

No Action, Talk Only. 

And it seems like a lot of voters are seeing right through him. Haley still holds a 10-point lead in the Republican primary; that has not budged. She's picked up endorsements from the Republican Liberty Caucus and Myrtle Beach TEA Party just within the past couple of days.

If rumors of an affair are true, than Haley should probably step out of the race. 

For having bad taste.



Saturday, May 29, 2010

Is there a replacement for Facebook?

Discontent about Facebook continues, and the social network's privacy issues have been in the news a lot lately.

It's become the issue that won't go away, although I'll wager those who are complaining the loudest about Facebook are still using it. How hypocritical is that?

I've had my say about Facebook, including why I shut down my account. Right now, my social media is more a this-and-that system, with Twitter and a few writer's forums. So far, I haven't found an all-in-one social media site that has all the goodies but none of the crap that I've come to know at Facebook.

Here's an article from ComputerWorld that I'm reading. It's interesting:

Is there a replacement for Facebook?: "There has been a great deal of discontent among Facebook users, and many are looking for an alternative. Are any sites ready to step in ? We look at the contenders."

Writer Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols explored a few here: Appleseed (still in beta), Diaspora (which still exists only on paper), Elgg, Lorea, OneSocialWeb, Pligg, and

Here's the spoiler:

Which one of these contenders will topple Facebook from its somewhat shaky social networking throne? At this point, I'd have to say "None of them." is the closest, but it's just not ready yet ... like it or lump it, if you can stomach the privacy issues, Facebook is still your best social network option for keeping up with friends and family. If Facebook makes good on its promises to do better with privacy concerns, it will remain the top social network. If it doesn't -- well, someone will invent a better social network, but it's not here yet.

Then there's a lot to be said about the decentralized this-and-that social networking system.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Oakland pot shop meets organized labor -- yeah, man.

DISCLAIMER: I do not endorse any products or organizations mentioned in this piece. Forget that.  

Remember those old "Look For The Union Label" commercials? The song was real popular in the early 1980s, urging people to a) buy American and b) buy something that was made by union hands:

Now, I can't hear that song any more without giggling. Now, workers at a medical marijuana dispensary got their invitations to join Local #5 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

I got this from Big Government:

Unions: Getting The Munchies After Smoking A Bowl: "

Over at Forbes I recently wrote about the union plan to organize your neighborhood fast food joint, which could turn the process of ordering a Number 3 with Coke into a culinary trip to the DMV. Well, maybe now we know why: they have been laying the groundwork to organize the entire food chain, as it were, since they have organized a pot shop in Oakland. Now you can Super Size it and smoke a spliff without ever crossing a picket line.

Now let's get back to the commercial. Notice how grim the narrator looks? She sure looks like she does not want to be there. That's OK, other union members will be glad to hook her up, though some of the singers look like they'd smoked a little too much.

Just sayin'.


Some wonderful truths to ponder late at night

As if I don't have enough distraction in my life, Mom sent this email of questions for me to ponder. And since I'm always trying to stimulate good thought and to open people's minds (sometimes with a wrecking bar), I thought I'd pass this along to y'all.

So, if you're lying awake at night for no reason, grab one or two of these questions and turn them over in your mind for a while. It may not help you get to sleep, but at least you'll have a reason for this insomnia.

Thank me later.

1. Is it good if a vacuum really sucks?

2. Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?

3. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?

4. If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?

5. Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack?

6. Why do "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?

7. Why do "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?

8. Why do "tug" boats push their barges?

9. Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game" when we are already there?

10. Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?

11. Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?

12. Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?

13. Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?

14. Why do "overlook" and "oversee" mean opposite things?

15. Why is "phonics" not spelled the way it sounds?

16. If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?

17. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

18. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

19. If you are cross-eyed and have dyslexia, can you read all right?

20. Why is bra singular and panties plural?

21.. Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?

22. Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase?

23. How come abbreviated is such a long word?

24. Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?

25. Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

26. Why do they call it a TV set when you only have one?

27. Christmas -- What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?

28. Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway ?  (This last one was something the late George Carlin wondered about, too.)


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Art Linkletter dead at 97

Another legend gone ... but overcoming some rough spots in his life, making it to 97, dying at home ... you can't beat that.

Art Linkletter Dead at 97: "Art Linkletter, whose People Are Funny and House Party shows entertained millions of TV viewers in the 1950s and '60s and who remained active as a writer and speaker through his ninth decade, died today at age 97. Linkletter was known on TV for his funny interviews with children and..."

In case you're wondering, yes, I remember watching him on the tube (black and white, of course) when I was a young'un. As did the rest of the Baby Boom generation. And yes, kids do say the darnedest things; that part hasn't changed much.

(NBC photo shows Art Linkletter in 1969.)


HuffPo: Children are more likely to own a cell phone than a book

The numbers may be a little suspect, but it doesn't surprise me. 

I got this from The Huffington Post:

Children Are More Likely To Own A Cell Phone Than A Book, Study Says: "

Almost nine-in-10 pupils now have a mobile compared with fewer than three-quarters who have their own books in the home, it was disclosed ... the study by the National Literacy Trust suggested a link between regular access to books outside school and high test scores ... 

You can take this info and unpack it any way you like. We've already noticed kids don't read, and they grow up into adults who also don't read. Then they raise more children who don't read. Nothing new there.

Bottom line, parents: If you want your kids to read, set the example. Read to them. Read for yourself. Even if you grow up to be a totally evil uncool unhip parent (usually when the child hits about age 12), there's a chance some of that influence may stick. 

A generation ago, my friend Marco and I were bemoaning the popularity of Nintendo, which was the kiddie toy of the day. "We're raising a generation of Nintidiots," was how Marco put it.

But if Marco, a reader and guitar player, was reading this news article he might wonder how many of these pupils today have a guitar in their homes. And we're not talking about Guitar Hero either.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Does Facebook need its own anti-malware service?

I got this from ReadWriteWeb, and am running it in its entirety. It's interesting, even though the writers were too kind to Facebook. This, by the way, was a sponsored post--meaning it's pretty suspect. My comments are interjected below.

Does Facebook Need Its Own Anti-Malware Service?: "

Does Facebook need to run its own anti-virus and anti-malware security system? That's a question that may need to be addressed in the near future as the now almost 500 million users on the social networking service are facing regular attacks from rogue applications, phishing attempts and other sorts of hacks, not to mention the onslaught of viral, but often completely inaccurate reposted status messages that spread around the network like modern-day chain letters. These messages warn users about some supposed threat occurring on site, but are often either misguided or out-and-out lies.

Out and out lies, my butt. I spent about an hour chasing down something that a) sent random weird messages to my Facebook friends and b) was identified as malware by several excellent sources. This missive smacks of spin control to me.

Is it time for Facebook to step in and do more to protect its network and its users from threats like these?

Rogue Facebook Apps Top Rogue Anti-Spyware During Busy Weekend

The latest threat to make the rounds on Facebook is a rogue application dubbed 'Distracting Beach Babes.' The app compromised the security of thousands of users' accounts by way of status messages that appear to be from friends. But when the users click through on the tantalizing link, they're asked to give an application permission to run. The app then tells users they must update their 'FLV player' before they can see the video. Those that attempt to do so are sent off-site to another page where malware is installed on their computer.

This is hardly the first rogue application to take advantage of Facebook's automated app approval systems. In fact, only days ago, a similar attack was underway. This one was a link to what was purportedly the 'sexiest video ever!' (Those hackers sure know how to entice, don't they?)

Shoot, this wasn't even the first attack involving the FLV player. If y'all haven't read the sordid tale yet, do so

This particular application led to a very busy weekend for anti-virus firms, indicating a major push by rogue Facebook apps, says AVG's chief research officer, Roger Thompson. Via the AVG website, Thompson reported that from midnight to 9 a.m. on May 15, its anti-malware software blocked more than 30,000 rogue Facebook applications, more than three times the rate of rogue anti-spyware.

In other words, the new anti-malware wave won't be coming from email, IM or other random websites users are tricked into visiting. It will come from your Facebook friends... or so it will seem.

Thompson acknowledged that Facebook's security team was 'very responsive' in identifying and removing these sorts of rogue applications, but Facebook's by-default viral nature allowed them to spread rapidly and affect large numbers of users before the apps could be removed. 'This attack was actually stunning in terms of scale,' he said.

"Very responsive?" I'll bite. This issue came to my attention May 2. If they were "very responsive," this would be a dead issue and no more needs to be said or written. 

Oh. I forgot. It was a different video this time. That'll throw 'em every time. Silly me.

Rogue Apps, Phishing, Scams and More

Other recent Facebook-related malware attacks have included fake Facebook password reset emails, the seemingly never-ending spread of the Koobface worm, the 'stalk my profile' scam (a rogue app with 25 variations, claiming it could tell you who visited your profile), the rogue 'like' app (which borrows the infamous like icon), and many others. Other unpatched attack vectors pop up everyday, like this security hole which researcher Joey Tyson (a.k.a theharmonyguy) describes as a 'dream situation for phishing.' This vulnerability is especially troubling as it enables a hacker to present a convincing Facebook login page that actually contains the term '' within its URL. (See it action here. Can you tell that's not the real

The situation has gotten so bad that users, in an attempt to be helpful, end up spreading around messages about various threats. Unfortunately, the threats they report are often false or are simply harmless bugs that Facebook is fixing, adding to the confusion. Case in point is the warning that anyone who received 'tons of friend suggestions' was infected with a virus. The reality, ironically, involved a widespread misunderstanding of the actual Facebook friend suggestion feature. The situation is so out of control that people are now spreading jokes poking fun at the trend itself.

See my above comment. If this was a bug Facebook was fixing, this would not be an issue. Next question ...?

Facebook's Security Efforts to Date

For what it's worth, earlier this year, Facebook implemented virus-scanning for the PCs of compromised users after they had fallen victim to an attack. The company also runs its own Security Page, which serves as a warning system of sorts. The page now has over 1.8 million fans (or in the new lingo, 'people who like this'). But on a network of nearly 500 million, this is the equivalent of a drop in the bucket. And it may not be enough to combat this ever-growing threat.

Ohh, yeah. Online virus scanning of the end user's computer. There are a few services that offer this; you will see their ads popping up every once in a while. Unfortunately, these are the kind of "services" that ad a whole different breed of malware to your computer. I'll pass on that.

And Facebook implementing this virus scanning? The way they totally don't give a rip about user security, I'd pass on that too. And if you have half a brain, you'll likewise pass.

Sophos security researcher Graham Cluley recently pondered this same question, asking, 'Isn't it time that Facebook set up an early warning system on their network, through which they can alert their... users about breaking threats as they happen?' The impact of such a feature could be dramatic, he explains. 'Imagine just how many people could have been protected if a simple message had appeared on all users' screens warning them of the outbreak.'

Whether an early warning system is actually needed is debatable. Another option would be for Facebook to more closely monitor the applications submitted to its platform. As the New York Times recently reported, 'Facebook's automated system for application developers leaves a door open to the creation and distribution of abusive applications,' even if the apps' ability to spread is short-lived.

But apps that only live for a few hours can still have thousands of victims. Maybe it's time for Facebook to make sure they never get to live at all?

Image credits in original article: Facebook; Sophos

Bottom line: Facebook has not earned my trust. There's no way on this earth I'd trust them to do anything with my computer. I won't even let them wipe the dust off my screen. And now this?


Monday, May 24, 2010

Kos does what conservative counterparts can't

Double standards are alive and well in partisan politics.

This is from NewsBusters:

Back to Violence at Daily Kos: Talk About Punching Rand Paul In the Face: "

While liberals consistently worry out loud that conservative talk radio inspires violence, they're still avoiding blogs like the Daily Kos, which posted an item on Sunday headlined "I don't want to punch Rand Paul in the face, but...." This tongue-in-cheek lameness unfolded:

"....but if someone happens to punch him in the face, I believe that this is their right and that we as a people should not put safeguards in place to prevent such an occurrence ... My name is glutz78 and I'm a Libertarian through and through (not really but let's just say...) and especially when it comes to punching people in the face.  Because getting punched in the face is part of the free market...." 

Is this a satire, or does Glutz really want to punch Paul's lights out? I think it's meant as a satire, but "glutz" is betraying more anger than satirical prowess. He seems to want a few conservatives punched in the face.

"For starters, the tyranny of the Obama Administration is preventing me from driving around to every BP office in this country and punching every one of their employees in the face.  And I find that limiting because the free market would dictate that if I was able to exercise my freedom to punch everyone in a given company in the face, they would start to work a little bit smarter and stop preventing environmental catastrophes which are destroying the livelihoods of millions.  Or, at the very least, word would get out that if you work at BP, you will get punched in the face at some point and people would just stop working there and the company would deservedly go out of business. Problem solved ... back to Rand Paul. I get the sense that he, because of his completely obnoxious idea about legalizing racism, thus sending our country back in time a few decades or centuries, might incline someone to give him a big punch in his face.  Now, I'm not for that. Let me make that very clear.  I would be opposed to someone doing that. DO NOT DO THAT! But. BUT! In a Libertarian world, who am I to stop it?  Who are we to suppress free market actions that Jesus Christ intended?  If that's what the free market dictates, then that is what Rand Paul should get. And if he gets it, then the free market dictated that he deserved it."

See, if someone like a Limbaugh or O'Reilly says something outrageously tongue in cheek, he gets raked over the coals. If it's someone from the Daily Kos, well shucks, he's just havin' a bit of fun, and it's all good. 

Sounds to me like those Libs can sure dish it out, but they can't take it. Anyone mind telling me, what's up with that?


Friday, May 21, 2010

Facebook handing advertisers names, hometowns

Might this be another reason to ditch Facebook? 

From Newser:

Facebook Handing Advertisers Names, Hometowns: "Despite promises to the contrary, Facebook and MySpace are supplying information to advertisers that can be used to find an individual's name, age, hometown and occupation, reports the Wall Street Journal . Typically on the Web, advertisers receive nothing more than an unintelligible string of letters and numbers 'identifying' an Internet...

The full article can be read in the Wall Street Journal:

Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers' names and other personal details, despite promises they don't share such information without consent ... the practice, which most of the companies defended, sends user names or ID numbers tied to personal profiles being viewed when users click on ads. After questions were raised by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook and MySpace moved to make changes. By Thursday morning Facebook had rewritten some of the offending computer code ... advertising companies are receiving information that could be used to look up individual profiles, which, depending on the site and the information a user has made public, include such things as a person's real name, age, hometown and occupation ... several large advertising companies identified by the Journal as receiving the data, including Google Inc.'s DoubleClick and Yahoo Inc.'s Right Media ...

OK. Have you dumped your Facebook account yet? While I do miss the networking with friends, I'm surviving pretty well without it. I sure don't miss the malware. Or the privacy settings that require a degree in nuclear physics to figure out. Or the random people I really don't want to hear from. Or all this Farmville and FishyWorld or whatever-it-is crap that's cluttering up my computer.



Obsolete Anonymous: Who's next to join?

I saw this in the Huffington Post, and man, does it make me feel ancient!

J.A. Konrath: Is Print Dead?: "

Moderator: Welcome to Obsolete Anonymous! I've gathered you all here to welcome our latest member, the Print Industry.

Print Industry: Hello, everyone. But there's been a mistake. I don't belong here.

(chuckles all around)

Print Industry: I'm serious. I'm not obsolete. I'm relevant. Print books have been around for hundreds of years. They're never going to be replaced.

VHS Tapes: Yeah, we all thought like that once.

LP Records: It's called denial. It's tough to deal with at first.

Print Industry: Look, everyone, I assume you all think that ebooks are going to put me out of business. But that won't happen.

Phone Company: I remember when you couldn't walk twenty yards in a city without seeing a pay phone. Then those gosh darn cell phones came along. Do you know some people don't even have land lines anymore?

(Phone Company begins to cry. Print Phonebooks joins in. So does Dial Up Modems. Encyclopedia Set, wearing an I Hate Wikipedia T-Shirt, pops a few Prozac. A group hug ensues.)

Video Rental Store: What Phone Company is trying to say is that when a technology comes along that's faster, easier, and cheaper, the old technology--and all the companies that supported it--tends to fade away.

Print Industry: Why are you here, Video Rental Store? There are a lot of you around.

CDs: There were record stores everywhere once.

Cassette Tapes: Hell yeah! They sold cassettes, too! Someone give me a high five!

(no one gives Cassette Tapes a high five)

Video Rental Store: Things looked good for a while. I had a decent run. Then I got hit by all sides. Netflix. On Demand. Tivo. YouTube. But the nail in the coffin came in the past two years. Hulu. Roku--which allows subscribers to stream video instantly. iTunes and Amazon offering movie downloads. Red Box, which rents DVDs for 99 cents and takes up no more space than a candy machine...

Print Industry: But ebooks are just a tiny percentage of the market. People have been reading print since Gutenberg. They won't adapt to change that easily.

SLR Cameras: You're correct. It takes a few years for people to fully embrace new technology. Some never do. Instant Cameras never replaced me.

Instant Cameras: Shut up, SLR. We both got our butts kicked by digital. How much film did you sell last year?

TV Antennas:
I'm still big in some third world countries!

Typewriter: The bottom line is; when technology improves, it becomes widely adopted. Me and Carbon Paper used to have a groovy thing going. I'd make the words, he would make the duplicates. Then Copy Machine got into the act, but he's not doing well now either.

Copy Machine: Effing computers.

Dot Matrix Printer: Effing laser and inkjet. Doesn't anyone else miss tearing off the perforated hole punches on the side of paper? Don't they miss the feel and smell of that?

Fold-Out Paper Maps: I agree! Isn't it fun to open up a big map while you're driving, in hopes of figuring out where you are? Don't you miss the old days before cars came equipped with GPS and no one ever used that upstart, MapQuest?

CDs: Effing internet. That's the problem. Instant access to information and entertainment for the whole world. You guys want to talk about pirating and illegal downloads?

(everyone shouts out 'no!')

Moderator: We all read on JA Konrath's blog that the way to fight piracy is with cost and convenience. Print Industry, are you lowering your prices and making it easier for customers to download your books?

Print Industry: Actually, we just raised prices on our ebooks.

(all-around sighs and head shaking)

Moderator: Well, far be it for you to learn from any of our mistakes. Are you making it easier at least?

Print Industry: Well, we've begun windowing titles, releasing them months after the hardcover comes out.

(collective head slapping)

Music Industry: Have you at least tried selling from your own site? I wish I'd done that. But then Apple came along...

Print Industry: Uh... no. We haven't tried that. In fact, some ebooks--we'll use JA Konrath as an example since he was mentioned--aren't even available on all platforms and in all territories.

Moderator: What do you mean? Konrath's ebooks are available all over the place.

Print Industry: Those are the ones he uploads himself. The ones of his that we sell are missing from several key markets, and have been for years. But it's okay. We're paying him much smaller royalties and jacking the prices up high so we can still make a profit. Besides, ebooks are a niche market. Ereading devices are dedicated and expensive.

Arcades: I used to be a thriving industry. Kids dropped millions of quarters in my thousands of locations. But then Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft made home arcade machines, and now people play their videogames on dedicated devices. It's a multi-billion dollar business now, and I can only compete if I sell pizza and give out plastic trinkets to kids with the most foosball tickets. If people want the media, they buy the expensive device. Period.

Print Industry: None of you are listening to me. Print will always be around.

Newspaper Industry: Yeah! What he said!

Print Industry: Let's not compare ourselves, okay Newspaper Industry? No offense.

Newspaper Industry:
None taken. Hey, maybe we can help each other. I'm selling advertising space for dirt cheap these days, and...

Print Industry: No thanks. No one reads you anymore. People get their news elsewhere.

Moderator: So why won't people get their novels elsewhere as well?

(Print Industry stands up, pointing a finger around the room.)

Print Industry: Look, this isn't about me. All of you guys have become irrelevant. Technology marched on, and you didn't march with it. But that WILL NOT happen to me. There will always be bookstores, and dead tree books. We'll continue to sell hardcovers at luxury prices, and pay artists 6% to 15% royalties on whatever list price WE deem appropriate. And the masses will buy our books BECAUSE WE SAID SO! WE SHALL NEVER BECOME OBSOLETE!!!

Buggy Whip Industry:
Amen, brother! That's what I keep trying to tell these people!

CDs: (whispering to LPs) I give him six years, tops.

All of this begs the question: Who is next to join their ranks? My money is on DVDs, and they haven't been around very long. I can hear 'em now: "&%$#@!! Blu-Ray!"


S.C. mulls Arizona-like immigration measure

Fasten your seat belts. This is gonna be a bumpy ride.

From The State, Columbia SC:

S.C. mulls Arizona-like immigration measure

A state Senate subcommittee meets this morning to discuss a bill that would empower local police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or detain.However, it’s too late in the legislative session for the bill, which mimics Arizona’s controversial law, to become state law this year. That leads critics and political watchers to believe today’s meeting is more about political theater than creating a new law.“By doing it when they don’t actually have time to pass the legislation, they get credit for the symbolic stand without having to worry about how to fund the measure,” said Scott Huffman, a Winthrop University political science professor.However, Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, who will lead this morning’s meeting, said that is not the case. None of the five members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee are up for re-election, he said ...

About time someone got some sense in the state house.

OK. Here's the deal. We have a lot of illegals in South Carolina. It's not like in Arizona or The People's Republic of California, but we've got plenty. Enough in my neighborhood that, when I wear my Border Patrol t-shirt around the mobile home park, everybody scatters. 

The folks who say how terrible Arizona's law is, well, they just don't get it. At the risk of repeating myself, there's a reason these cats are called "illegal aliens," and the operative word here is "illegal." Got that? 

At bottom, we are a nation of laws. That's the only way we can get an even halfway just society around here. 


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arizona threatens to pull the plug on L.A.

This just came in over the news transom, from the Huffington Post:

Arizona Threatens To Pull The Plug On LA

The LA Weekly reports:

An Arizona public utilities official on Tuesday dared Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to follow through with the city's economic boycott of Arizona by giving up the 25 percent of L.A's power he says the city gets from the desert state.

The HuffPo says:

In a letter obtained by the Weekly, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce writes to Villaraigosa to express that he was 'dismayed' by the boycott over the state's controversial immigration law and noted that 'twenty-five percent of the electricity consumed in Los Angeles is generated by power plants in Arizona.'

Now, I'm wondering if The City of Lost Angels is still indulging in empty rhetoric (the smart money says yes) or is actually willing to put a little substance in their stance. Arizona does supply a good chunk of L.A.'s electricity. As far as I know, the state can't do a thing with the Colorado River Compact, else L.A. will be in a world of hurtin'.

Stay tuned. Arizona and L.A. will be in the schoolyard soon, comparing 'nad sizes.



Bricklayer Dudley gets GOP nomination for Oregon Governor

Now this is kind of interesting. Chris Dudley played 16 seasons in pro basketball, a backup center who could hold his position against the big guys, block shots, and grab rebounds like crazy. 

Only thing that kept him out of the starting lineup was that he couldn't score in an empty gym. Made Shaquille O'Neal look like an accurate free-throw shooter. He still holds the record for 13 consecutive misfires from the line in 1990, and once went 1-for-18 in a game.

But a solid guy nonetheless, recognized as a class act during his playing time, and intelligent -- one of the few Yale grads to hit the NBA.

And now, he's the GOP nominee for Governor of Oregon.

This is from the Huffington Post:

Chris Dudley Wins Oregon Governor Nomination From GOP: "

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Former NBA player Chris Dudley has won his rookie political contest, grabbing the Republican nomination for governor of Oregon ... Dudley defeated Allen Alley with 40 percent of the vote, with 70 percent of the expected vote counted. Alley had 32 percent.

Note: 40 percent? That's pretty close to his free-throw shooting record. Here's a comment from an ESPN reader:

"By far the ugliest, most awkward looking guy you ever want to see on the free throw line. 45% career FT....and for a center 41% career from the field. He was the definition of a stiff."


The people have spoken, and they said 'Bite Me'

This has to be the biggest "Bite Me!" message served up from the voters in a long time. 

I mean, Rand Paul? Ron Paul's boy? You know Ron Paul, don't you? Many liberals -- and mainstream voters -- frequently accuse Ron (and Rand) of talking through their tinfoil hats. Ahh, now does all this ring a bell? 

Here's what the Huffington Post has to say about this:

Robert Reich: The 'Mad-As-Hell' Party Scores as the Anxious Class Stews: "

Kentucky Tea Party hero Rand Paul scores a knockout victory over Republican Trey Grayson. Before that, Utah Senator Robert Bennett loses to a Tea Party-fueled Republican insurgent. Is the lesson here the rise once again of the Republican right?

Not so fast. Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln is also in a tough fight -- threatened from the left by Lt. Governor Bill Halter. In Pennsylvania, newly-minted Democrat Arlen Specter is in a heated battle with an opponent on his left. Meanwhile, thirteen-term Democratic representative Paul Kanjorski is challenged by 36-year-old Corey O'Brien -- who's waged a spirited campaign from his RV, accusing Kanjorski of being too tied to Wall Street ... okay, so maybe all this signals increasing strength on both political extremes? ... Not really. To the extent these races represent anything at all (and it's easy to read too much into early races), it's a swing against the establishment ...

Admittedly, that's part of it. It's also a slap at overgrown government, against a political regime that took a wrong turn somewhere along the line, a few more wrong turns here and there, and we now wake up to PrezBo, Pelosi, and Reid. 

Tim Kaine, head of the Democratic National Committee, has this to say, as quoted in CNN's Political Ticker:

“Jack Conway will be a strong Democratic candidate who represents the best of Kentucky leadership and values. While the Republican nominee will focus on extreme ideas like abolishing the Department Education and disbanding the Federal Reserve, Jack Conway will work to create good jobs for Kentuckians, improve educational opportunities for young people, fight the special interests in Washington and help families and small businesses prosper. He is a dedicated public servant who will fight for the needs of Kentucky’s working families, and I look forward to working with him to achieve a Democratic victory over Republican Rand Paul this fall.”

OK, so where are the extreme ideas? Oh ... the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve. Both have been ineffective for years, and both are more interested in their own growth and their own turf battles than in getting a job done. Just sayin'.

Again from HuffPo:

It's the economy, stupid. American politics is turning anti-establishment because so many Americans feel screwed by the economy and they blame the establishment. If there's a trend here, it's not left-wing Democrats versus right-wing Republicans. It's the 'Mad-As-Hell' Party against both ... unemployment continues to haunt the middle class -- the anxious class of America. There are still more than five jobless workers for every job opening ... but it's also low wages. The much-vaulted first quarter of this year produced zilch in terms of wage growth. Private-sector hourly earnings rose at a .4 annual rate while prices climbed at about a 1 percent -- leaving most workers with less purchasing power than they had when the quarter began. The only reason weekly earnings showed any growth at all is because some workers put in more hours ...

Voters may be slow and dumb sometimes, but take their bread out of their mouths and see how quickly they can move. 

Here's Rand, in his victory speech:

It's going to be an interesting time in ol' Kentucky this year. And watch some of the other primaries around the country, will you? I guarantee you're going to see more "Bite Me" messages.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Obama's got Woody Allen's vote ... for dictator

Do people actually pay attention to these Hollyweird types?

This is from Fox:

Woody: Obama for 'Dictator':

... director says President Obama should be given dictatorial powers for 'a few years', GOP should 'get out of his way' ...

Let's see. Woody Allen? THE Woody Allen? Does he still have credibility?

But then, let's get inside the head of your average voter. Credibility means nothing. It's star power, baby. Which is why folks actually pay mind to what Barbra Streisand and Woody Harreslson -- and Woody Allen -- have to say. That's why they keep voting for California's action-figure-turned-Governator. 


How to tweet your job away, in six easy steps

I've been known to tweet. That's using Twitter to send 140 characters' worth of twaddle to the other tweeps (or is it twerps?) out there in Twitter Land. I'll admit, it's a lot of fun, and once you figure out how to get past the ridiculous signal-to-noise ratio on that microblogging site, it can be useful.

I've used Twitter to spot trends, to get up-to-the-second dispatches on some news event, and even to grab some background information on whatever I'm writing. 

But then, we have a lot of folks who use Twitter just to massage their diseased egos, or to spread a whole bunch of mundane crap all over the world. While many people have used Twitter to find jobs, quite a few used Twitter as a way to lose whatever job they had.

I got this from MentalFloss, and it's a hoot. i urge you to read the article:

How to Tweet Your Way Out of a Job:

"Hate your job? Want to leave without giving two weeks notice? Thanks to Twitter, it’s never been easier to get fired. All you have to do is sign up for an account and follow these simple steps. You’ll be unemployed in no time!"

Step 1: Drunk Tweet

Well, yeah, this goes without saying. You know your boss -- or potential boss -- may be monitoring you on Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media. But Mike Bacsik, a former ballplayer and now, ex-sports-show host, found out what happens when you mix the tweets with the Lone Stars. Or whatever he was drinking.

Step 2: Break the Law (or Just Anger Your Governor)

I tell you, you need to read the article.

Step 3: Have an NSFW Lifestyle

Step 4: Question Company Policy

D'oh! Never a good idea -- especially if you don't want your boss to know.

Step 5: Make a Celebrity Look Bad

Step 6: Don’t Get Hired in the First Place

From MentalFloss: " ... when recent college grad Skye Riley heard back from Cisco, the computer networking giant, about her job application, one of her first instincts was to tweet about it. Unfortunately, this is what she tweeted: 

@theconnor: Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.

The unfortunate part? An employee of Cisco, Tim Levad, came across her post while doing a Twitter search for Cisco. He replied to her by saying:

@timmylevad: Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.


You see, these computers, handhelds, and smart phones are dangerous toys. Too dangerous to be in the hands of idiots.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Obama officially P.O'd in wake of spill

From the Associated Press:

Obama pledges permit review, end to cozy oil links


Workers wear protective footwear as they comb the beach at Dauphin Island, Ala. Friday, May 14, 2010. The community was bracing for a possible land fall of an oil spill caused by the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil platform more than three weeks ago. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)AP - Declaring himself as angry as the rest of the nation, President Barack Obama assailed oil drillers and his own administration Friday as he ordered extra scrutiny of drilling permits to head off any repeat of the sickening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Engineers worked desperately to stop the leak that's belching out at least 210,000 gallons of crude a day ...

OK. I don't understand something.

PrezBo sat on his thumb for how many days after the spill started, did nothing, and now he's ticked? 

God forbid a real emergency -- a 9/11 type, for example -- should happen while he's on the golf course. If that should happen, nothing will get done until he's finished putting.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Facebook stonewalls on privacy questions

Facebook's been in a lot of hot water lately, what with the much-discussed privacy issues facing the social media giant. 

I'd had my moment in writing about the issue, as I went so far as to shut down my Facebook account after a bout with spyware from the site and this increasingly snaky feeling that Facebook doesn't really give a rip about user privacy.

Anyway, Facebook folks had a major meeting this afternoon to discuss these issues. Whether this meeting involved mass executions, I have no idea. Yet.

It seems Facebook is bringing stonewalling to an art form.

This account is from ReadWriteWeb, a source I trust on tech matters:


Facebook Clams Up After Meeting on Privacy

Facebook_logo.jpgAs we reported yesterday, Facebook's high and mighty summoned unto them their employees, to talk about the savage beating they've been taking in the media, on blogs and among users, big and basic. The meeting, held at 4:00 pm PST has produced no audible results ... when we asked a Facebook spokesman about the meeting we got the same boilerplate as every other organization:

"We have an open culture and it should come as no surprise that we're providing a forum for employees to ask questions on a topic that has received a lot of outside interest."

But wait, there's more:

In an e-mailed statement to Computerworld, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said, 'We had a productive discussion where comments were made and questions were asked and answered" ... Noyes declined, however, to say if the social networking giant made any decisions about changing its contentious privacy policies or if the meeting was simply to allow employees to ask questions about the brouhaha that has arisen over them.


Looks like Facebook is trying its level best to screw things up here. See, they were on top for some time. Reduced Friendster into a trivia question, and stripped MySpace of all relevance.

Facebook became the only game in town.

When you're the only game in town, you get caught up in Hubris real easily. And as the ancient Greeks so tiresomely remind us, that's when Nemesis hands you your bee-hind. 

Oh, yeah. I have not restarted with Facebook. Nor do I plan to. I'm sure my old Facebook friends would understand, and it's not like social media is the only way we keep in contact.


Please pass the gas ... or NOT!

This is classic ...

Here's an interview with inventor Frank Bibbo, from -- you may have to wade through a bunch of ads to get to it, though.

I'm wondering if this takes one of the fun aspects out of marriage  ... i.e. pulling the blanket over her head? 

I mean, there are some things in life that just ought to be shared.


Arizona belongs to who?

This comes from commentator Neal Boortz:

OBAMA'S OPEN BORDERS: "Just to remind you --- Barack Obama hasn't done one thing since Arizona's new law to solve the problem of Arizona's open border with Mexico. He hasn't done anything since he was elected. He won't do anything this week. He won't do anything next week. Truth is, Obama doesn't want to close the border. The criminal alien invaders will keep pouring in. Remember ... a Pew Research poll showed that 58% of Mexicans believe that Arizona belongs to Mexico anyway. Just keeping you up to speed. How's that hopey-changy thingy working out for you?"

I wonder how many think California belongs to Mexico?

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is now the largest city to boycott the State of Arizona, and there's pressure on Major League Baseball to boycott next year's All-Star Game, which will be in Phoenix. The latter, by the way, sure reminds me of the NFL putting the squeeze play on the state over the Martin Luther King holiday back in the 1990s. 

These boycotts generate a bunch of noise, but in reality don't work all that well. The NAACP has been boycotting South Carolina over the Confederate Flag issue, and it hasn't exactly kept people away. If it did work, then how about boycotting Los Angeles for being led by a bunch of politically-correct pansies?


SC Gov. Sanford saw Argentine lover in Florida (AP)

SC Gov. Sanford saw Argentine lover in Florida
: "

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2010 photo, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford participates in the Southern Governors' Association meeting on energy independence during the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington. Sanford says he spent this past weekend with his Argentine lover in Florida. He told reporters at a news conference on an unrelated issue Wednesday May 12, 2010 that he spent several days with Maria Belen Chapur to see if they could restart their relationship. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)AP - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Wednesday he spent last weekend in Florida with his Argentine lover, hoping to rekindle the affair that wrecked his marriage and his political future and brought a formal rebuke from legislators for embarrassing the state ...

Well? Right now he has nothing to lose. No wife, no reputation, and soon no job. He might as well continue the craziness he'd already started.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Earthquake map brings seismic updates, anxiety

How close are we to the Big One?

Or, was that last shaker really the Big One?

Might it be a good idea to buy property in Arizona, thinking it may become coastal land?

Or am I talking through my tinfoil hat again?

Anyway, here's a Web site that gives the latest fault line activity, by the hour, by the magnitude, and all that good stuff. If you live in,  say, California (like I used to), this might give you hours of anxiety-fueling entertainment. Or not.



Monday, May 10, 2010

Saying goodbye to a friend

"My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today."

- Rabbit proverb, quoted by Richard Adams, "Watership Down."

I made one of the hardest decisions in my life over the weekend. I had my best friend, one who was a part of my life for 15 years, euthanized ... [read more]

Rest easy, Hoodoo.


Friday, May 7, 2010

'Duck And Cover' brings back some memories

Remember this?

I think I saw this in my kindergarten class. Rather a tense time, what with Khruschev and Castro feeling their oats.

Anyway, I was doing my usual manic Google thing, and uncovered this. I think it was originally done in 1951, and became a schoolhouse staple until the 1980s.

I forgot the turtle had a name. It's Bert.

Thought I'd share this little piece of nostalgia with you. Enjoy.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Everyone wants to crash Cinco de Mayo party

Or something.

This video was shot over a 35-day period in mid-2009, with the camera perched over one trail. Notice how well-enforced our borders are.

Understand, not all illegal aliens are Mexican. They're not even all Latinos. Not all Mexicans are illegal aliens, either. In fact, many second- and third-generation Mexicans do not like illegal aliens. Let's get that up front.

But this invasion -- and I can't think of a cleaner word here -- has changed the population dynamics in the southwest. And the southeast. And everywhere else in the country. While it's an underhanded compliment that people would want to sneak into this country, it's also a slap in the face to working people everywhere, our policy makers, and our law enforcement.

Just sayin'.


Monday, May 3, 2010

I guess he's not running for President either

Maricopa County (Arizona, home of a half-million illegal aliens) Sheriff Joe Arpaio discusses his political future: He won't run for Governor.

Too bad. Even at his age (77) he's got potential. Plus he makes a lot more sense than most of the idiots in politics.

Here's a bright moment with Arpaio and Al Sharpton, as seen on MSNBC. 


My Facebook officially shut down, now what?

OK. My Facebook account is officially shut down. I euthanized it this morning.

Now, there's the problem of filling some of that void; social media without the social media.

I found this article in some blog called the Dead Dog Cafe (hey, I don't name these things) that is worthy of my consideration. In truth, there are no real secrets there. The writer suggests using:

  • Twitter for status messages. I do use that, but the signal-to-noise ratio is ridiculous. The infrastructure is too wide open, and you usually need some third-party software or service to filter things. It's not as completely messed up as Facebook (give it time), but in the interim it handles my short messaging needs.
  • Pidgin for chat (although Meebo is also good for this). Generally, dust off your old chat accounts and instant messaging and use those. Do people still send instant messages?
  • Regular email for messages. OK. I still use email, and a lot of it, but I'll admit I'm an anachronism. Email is, like, so '90s. Do the folks of the "millennial" generation use email?

The Low Tech Times (I love the layout, by the way) echoes some of this, but adds blogging to the roll-your-own social media mix. The writer, S. P. Gass concludes: "The only reason I can think of to sign up for a Facebook account is to drive traffic to my own sites."

Which, said and done, is the only real reason I can see for keeping Facebook around (except for my friends who are used to exchanging political comment & other nuggets of wisdom with me). But does Facebook actually drive traffic to these blogs? I can't rightly tell, though it's helped make my circle of friends aware of my doings and writings. 

Gass (great name) further stirs the puddin' in an update to his original 2009 piece: Spend time with family and friends in person. Send a postcard every so often. Send an email. And he reiterated the concept of blogging, preferably in a platform where you own the words you write.

On Facebook the natives are getting restless, and you might find some new flavors of Kool-Aid around. But it doesn't matter what flavor you're drinking, the results are still the same.

Meanwhile, there's a new Facebook group that apparently started within the last few minutes: "10 Reasons To Delete Your Facebook Account." Uhh, it ought to be interesting to see how many members it attracts:

  • Hypocrites will join the group, maintaining their Facebook accounts to do so.
  • Non-hypocrites will merely delete their accounts.

But then, you find that in the real world, too. Some folks will complain and start a movement about something that upsets them, and in doing so feed the problem. Others will quietly (or maybe not so quietly) cease to be a party to the problem. Unfortunately, our society -- particularly our political structure these days -- seems to favor the first course of action. 

See you around the Web ...


Subscribed to The Column Reloaded yet? Well, what are you waiting for?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why I'm dumping Facebook like a bad habit

I never could get into the online games and other trappings, but Facebook was still one of my guilty online pleasures. Well, not exactly guilty; many of my friends are on it and that's how we correspond.

Put all that in the past tense. By the end of this week, I will shut my Facebook account down. It's not so much that it's a waste of time -- though in many respects it is -- but the Facebook interface has gone from bad to worse.

Like it or not, Facebook is a big phenomenon in the online world. It started some years ago as an interactive message board, and from there it grew legs. By itself it made that other groundbreaking social media site, MySpace, into an irrelevancy. OK, MySpace helped Facebook along by being the overloaded piece of junk that it is. For a long time, Facebook's big appeal in the social media world was that it wasn't MySpace.

I'd written extensively about Facebook's problems, mostly in the privacy realm. But many of these privacy issues in the past could be chased down to that great void that sits between chair and keyboard. If the computer operator is brain dead, then all sorts of weird things will happen with the computer.

I've noticed recently, though, that Facebook is playing it fast and loose with user privacy. Several new settings were implemented over the past few months, and all of these -- though billed as something that would enrich your Facebook experience -- tend to "share" your personal settings with everybody.

As I write this, I have a modest 104 friends on Facebook. Unlike many social media users, these are people I actually know. I've met nearly all of them, and the few I haven't met I've corresponded with enough to call them friends.

A Facebook employee, in an off-the-record chat with New York Times reporter Nick Bilton said that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg really doesn't give a rip about your privacy:  

@nickbilton: Off record chat w/ Facebook employee. Me: How does Zuck feel about privacy? Response: [laughter] He doesn't believe in it.

Bilton's original tweet, and it sure triggered a firestorm online. OK, you can debate this point here from a journalistic standpoint and from a factual one, but this statement certainly lines up with many of the changes I've seen on Facebook.

The final straw came Saturday night, when I got a video from a friend of mine. The still-shot preview showed a nearly-naked young woman, viewed from the hip. Now, I'm scratching my head. This friend of mine is a family man, one of the most honorable people I know, a good Southern Baptist, and just what is this all about? What didn't help is that the caption called this an "optical illusion."

OK. I'll bite.

While I bit, I was told my video viewer was out of date. I was asked if I wanted to download a new viewer. Now, I'm thinking. I use Opera 10.50, which for Linux is still in alpha. I mean, my software is bleeding-edge stuff; why should my viewer be out of date? Like an idiot I clicked on it.

A couple of things then happened:

1) The video was automatically sent to many people on my friends' list.

2) The .exe file to the viewer sat in my /home/download file. I noted the name and ran a Google search. The program in question, flvdirect.exe, is billed as something that would help download torrents but is actually spyware. It'll do all sorts of nefarious things on your hard drive and it monitors your surfing habits.

For the next hour or so, I heated up my high-speed Internet line. Running Google searches on the offending software. Firing instant messages back and forth with a Facebook (actually a real) friend who also got the video -- from me. Posting my findings on Facebook. I finally got to bed at 2 a.m., exhausted. Spreading malware sure is hard work.

The flvdirect.exe file did not affect my computer. I use a Linux system, which is immune to junk like that. The friend I exchanged messages with runs a Mac, which like Linux is also built off the lock-tight UNIX operating system. If I was using a Windows box it might be a different story.

All this episode did was spread on my Facebook account, and perhaps made my friends wonder if I'd flipped out. It robbed me of some valued sleep, and when you look like me you need all the beauty sleep you can get.

And it ticked me off. Completely. Enough to convince me to shut down Facebook.

OK, folks. Here's how this works. I still have two active email addresses; you can catch me at either one. I have two phone numbers; if you have one of those numbers you can give me a holler if you need to (those who don't have the number, well, there's a reason for that). I have my blog; those who read my posts on Facebook can read the exact same stuff there or even grab the RSS feed for your news raleader. For social media I have Twitter and LinkedIn, and if you're at least 50 years old you can catch my old folks' social media page at Eons. So it's not like I'm disappearing off the face of the earth, or even off the Web. Shoot, I make my living on the Internet; I'm not about to shut that down.

But Facebook? That's a whole 'nother matter.

If you use Facebook and have a Windows system, keep your virus checker and spyware screening system up to date. Seriously. AVG makes an excellent virus checker, it's free, and I understand it does check for spyware.

Don't click on weird-looking stuff, EVEN IF A FRIEND SENDS IT.

Got all that? Good.

In the next few days I'll be checking on other social-media options, and reporting on them. All of these, by the way, will feed directly into my Facebook page so they can be read there. If you access my material from there, you'd better read it fast before I shut the whole thing down.

Here's the upshot: If you're comfortable with the direction Facebook is going, by all means use it and enjoy it. But since I'm not comfortable with any of that, you can deal me out.