Stop feeding the trolls

Given some reports I’ve seen recently, I’m really starting to wonder how intelligent the masses have become. Let’s take the recent reports of “body shaming” and headlines where certain people, most recently Jessie James Decker, post pictures of themselves to “silence the body shamers” or some crap like that.

I wonder how much longer it’ll take till these people realize that… you’re basically giving the “shamers” what they want! They’re largely trolling knowing that you’ll respond with pictures of a certain variety to “silence” them.

And Internet parlance has the phrase “don’t feed the trolls” for good reason. In this instance, it’s a matter of trolling a celeb or group about their body and seeing if they respond by… posting pictures of said body in revealing attire to “silence” the troll.

And people wonder why the apparent incidence of these forms of online “harassment” appears to be increasing.

Rent or Buy, revisited

I’ve owned my home for about two (2) years now. Prior to that, I rented for a little over 14 years straight. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of memes show up on social media similar to this one:

If your mortgage payment will be less than your rent payment, that should be an easy sell to the bank. Right? Not so fast.

The property owner is responsible for pretty much everything. And you can’t call up the property owner whenever there is a problem if the property owner is you. You have to take care of it. It’s your problem, meaning it’s also your cost.

In the first year I owned my house, I had to replace the garbage disposal and dishwasher. Just the out-of-pocket for both was about $1,000 combined. And if I’d paid someone to install both rather than doing it myself, it easily would’ve been double that.

Over the 4th of July weekend preceding the date on this article, my air conditioner died. While waiting for a diagnostic and repair, I had to throw down another $1200 for window and portable A/C units to keep the house somewhat reasonable. Thankfully my nearby Home Depot was open on 4th of July so I could pick those up. (Update: The refrigerant line had a leak, and I decided to replace the entire A/C system for several reasons, in part due to the age of the condensor/compressor unit.)

I’m also re-insulating the attic since it appears that has been done… never. With exception to what was over the two smaller bedrooms, that is. Mostly. Old insulation called Balsam wool that has been up there since… the house was built. Something I wish the inspector pointed out in their report. But once all that’s replaced, the amount of electricity and natural gas it’ll take to keep my house reasonably climate controlled should be much lower than before.

And there was also the bathroom exhaust fan that needed replaced as well as part of the re-insulation. Which gave me a chance to correct one issue pointed out on the inspection report regarding there not being an exhaust duct while also being able to install a very quiet unit of my choice.

My house was originally built in 1951. And I anticipated that there would be some things needing fixed up and some things that were done either half-assed or not at all. And I was okay with that. Because part of the appeal of buying a house is being able to personalize it.

That isn’t something you have a lot of flexibility to do when you’re renting. (Or living in a neighborhood with an HOA.) What you see is basically what you get. And if anything breaks, you pretty much have to wait on your landlord to either fix it or call in someone to do that. But you ultimately aren’t paying for it directly. (By the way, the risk of needing to do that is one of the reasons your rent is higher than a mortgage payment.)

But what matters to the bank is whether you can afford to be a home owner. And I don’t mean just the mortgage payment and utilities. I mean… everything else like what I’ve mentioned above. Replacements, repairs, home maintenance, etc. It’s all on you.

That is why the closing costs are so important. It’s one of the tests the lender has on whether you can afford to be a homeowner. It’s a red flag (or a complete no-go depending on other factors) if you have to borrow money from someone else to make the closing costs. When I put down the earnest money via a Postal Money Order, my lender asked where that money came from – i.e. they wanted to see the receipt.

And easily the biggest test is how much money you currently have in savings when you apply for the mortgage.

The risk with the lender is whether you can continue to afford being a homeowner, or will you fall behind if something with the house goes south? Or will you put off repairing what went south, provided you get it repaired at all, so you don’t fall behind on the mortgage? Falling behind on the mortgage and potentially sacrificing the value of the home to any kind of disrepair are risks to the lender. That is why lenders require adequate homeowner’s insurance.

The bank doesn’t really care what your current rent payment is versus where they calculate your mortgage payment since that doesn’t answer those questions. But your credit rating and how much you have in savings does answer those questions in one direction or another.

Since writing a mortgage is about more than whether you’re a good or bad lending risk. It’s also about whether you’ll be a good or bad homeowner.

Don’t pursue a fleeing perp

Article: “Father shoots intoxicated man that was allegedly spying on his daughter and touching himself outside her window

I’m a little mixed about this. Now before any of you think I’m about to defend a peeping tom, sit down, calm down, and hear me out.

Thankfully despite the headline making it sound otherwise, the father didn’t just shoot the bastard on sight. That would’ve gotten the father rightly arrested, and the castle doctrine or any other claim to self defense wouldn’t have helped him since you still have to first establish that the person is a threat and articulate why. Existing on someone else’s property uninvited isn’t enough.

Instead the father tried to detain the guy, later identified as 44 year-old Jorge Ramos, so they could call police. And they were absolutely in the right there. (Side question: why wasn’t the wife getting pictures of the guy using her cell phone?)

Where the parents went wrong was when the perp left his property. You don’t have much leeway to pursue a fleeing perp, and it often is not in your best interest to do so. Being a licensed CCW won’t help you. Your CCW is NOT a badge. It does not confer any new powers you did not otherwise already have under the law.

And it doesn’t matter what you allege they did. Certain allegations don’t suddenly make it okay for you to pursue someone. Though way too many people think that certain allegations mean the suspect loses their rights entirely, and that mentality needs to end.

Once they leave your property, your ability under the law to pursue them is severely diminished. Doesn’t matter the perp just went across the street. Once he left the property, he is no longer considered any kind of threat or active perpetrator unless it can be demonstrated otherwise.

This means, in short, the best thing that you can do in this situation is… more or less nothing more than they were already going to do. Call the police, relay a description of the perp and what they were doing, along with pointing out where they went. If you took pictures of the perp, hand those over as well along with anything the perp may have left behind.

Legalities aside, again, pursuing a fleeing perp is often NOT in your best interest. Especially since, in the above situation, both parents left their 10 year-old daughter alone. That isn’t really an age where she can aptly defend herself against an adult perpetrator.

So the parents’ desire to pursue the perp may have left their daughter worse off because, quite simply, she was no longer foremost in their mind. They couldn’t know if the perp they pursued was the only one around. They presumed such, and pursued with that in mind over letting him go and calling it in.

And their desire to pursue the perp set the stage for tragedy after Ramos managed to wrestle the gun away from the wife and the husband was forced to shoot him. A person needlessly shot because the parents were being careless in how they responded to a situation.

Again, don’t pursue a fleeing suspect unless you are a police officer. Instead see to yours and your family’s safety first. And call it in and let the police deal with it. After all, that’s their job, not yours.

On Bill Cosby

As I write this, the hot ticket news headline is Bill Cosby’s indictment being vacated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And a lot of people are naturally upset. As is typical in these scenarios, though, there are plenty of people seemingly willing to act like rights either don’t exist or can just be tossed aside when they feel they should be.

First, let’s discuss the facts and details.

It is not in dispute that Bill Cosby actually drugged and sexually assaulted several women. Cosby confessed to such under deposition. A deposition that was then used against him in a criminal trial, completely going against the verbal promise of a district attorney’s office that they would not prosecute him. Basically a verbal grant of immunity a future prosecutor would then renege. That was the primary issue here.

To bring charges against someone, a prosecutor needs evidence. And without Cosby’s explicit confession, the prosecutors didn’t have anything.

With a civil suit pending and evidence for a criminal trial virtually non-existent, then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor made a verbal promise to Cosby that he would not seek criminal charges. Acting on that promise, Cosby then openly confessed, completely jettisoning his protections against self-incrimination. The civil suit was settled out of Court and Cosby went on to live his life.

Until 2015 when a new District Attorney, Kevin Steele, filed criminal charges just days before the statute of limitations ran out after Cosby’s deposition had been unsealed by the Court. The trial consisted of little more than verbal testimony by alleged victims with Cosby’s deposition being used against him, and he was then convicted and sentenced to three to ten years in jail.

That Cosby relied on Castor’s promise to not prosecute became the central premise. Did Castor, in effect, grant Cosby immunity? And the Pennsylvania Supreme Court answered that question in the affirmative. That Cosby took his statements as a promise and gave up his Fifth Amendment protection by effectively confessing to his accusations is what led to the outcome today.

Had Castor’s original promise been kept, Cosby would never have faced a criminal trial.

When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness. For these reasons, Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged

The decision here was proper. Castor’s decision, even if not in writing, was binding on the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office and forever barred them from bringing any charges relevant to or supported by Cosby’s testimony. And it was binding because Cosby acted on his good faith belief he was being granted criminal immunity in exchange for his deposition.

That Steele then decided, several years later, to file criminal charges and use against Cosby a civil deposition obtainable only because Castor granted him immunity was improper and a violation of Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights.

Recognizing that, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court quashed the indictment entirely, vacating his conviction, and ordering him released.

And it’s both surprising and not how many people seem to not realize WHY the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the way they did. This outcome isn’t a “miscarriage of justice”, but the correction of one. A significant violation of Cosby’s Fifth Amendment rights led to his prosecution, so says the Court. And if you’re going to act like that doesn’t matter because… rape, then why the fuck should I defend your rights?

Either rights are defended unconditionally for EVERYONE or NO ONE. There is no middle ground here.

Sidestepping the Fourth Amendment

In the State of Washington back in 1989, a young woman named Amanda Stavik was abducted raped, and murdered. Her body was discovered several days later. A surprising crime for the rural area where it occurred.

The case sat unsolved for nearly two decades until police were to make a break in the case, leading to the arrest and eventual conviction of Timothy Bass in 2019. During the trial was an evidentiary suppression hearing regarding DNA collected from a discarded cup and soda can.

It is long-settled law that anything discarded in trash in a dumpster or trash receptacle outside a home or place of business is fair game to police, and the Fourth Amendment is no protection. But the cup and soda can were collected from a trash can inside Bass’s place of employment. And not by law enforcement, but by his boss, Kim Wagner.

Hence the suppression hearing.

In 2009, Detective Kevin Bowhay reopened the investigation into Stavik’s murder. Timothy Bass was identified as a suspect, and in 2013 he requested that Bass voluntarily provide a DNA sample, to which Bass refused, demanding a warrant. (Note to you, dear Reader: never voluntarily provide anything to law enforcement.) Without the DNA sample positively linking Bass to Stavik, and no other physical evidence to link Bass to Stavik’s murder, Bass remained free from arrest.

Bowhay turned his attention to Bass’s employer: Franz Bakery. Bass worked as a truck driver for them, and Bowhay reached out Bass’s manager, Kim Wagner, with the intent of swabbing vehicles for any DNA. At that time, Bowhay did not tell Wagner they were specifically investigating Timothy Bass. Wagner said the detective would need to reach out to their corporate office, who did refuse to consent.

In May 2017 is when Wagner learned Bowhay was specifically after Bass when Bowhay asked Wagner for Bass’s delivery route with the intent of surveilling him, hoping for Bass to discard something with his DNA on it. He then informed Wagner that Bass did not discard anything.

Wagner then informed Bowhay that she would collect something from the employee break room. Bowhay’s response was simply “okay”, following up with the all-important words that he was not asking her to do anything. Why are those words important? We’ll get to that in a moment. Wagner was able to collect the aforementioned soda can and cup, turned it over to investigators who were able to recover DNA from it, which was a positive match for the DNA collected from Stavik’s body in 1989.

With that evidence, Bass was arrested, tried, and convicted of Stavik’s murder. Bass appealed his conviction, saying the motion to suppress the DNA evidence should have been granted. And the Court of Appeals for the State of Washington, Division I, recently affirmed the denial of the motion and, in turn, affirmed the conviction.1State of Washington v. Timothy Bass, Case No. 80156-2

* * * * *

One very important principle of law in the United States boils down to simply that a government agent cannot request or command a private citizen to do that which the agent is not authorized to do under the law. When it comes to the Fourth Amendment and the protection against a warrant-less search, this means simply that law enforcement cannot request a private citizen collect evidence they cannot otherwise obtain without a warrant or probable cause.

The question at hand with the case against Timothy Bass, however, is whether the Fourth Amendment protects you when a private citizen hands over that evidence of their own volition. Generally the answer is No.

But also at issue in Timothy Bass’s case are two details I feel are very important and, I feel, should’ve resulted in the DNA evidence being suppressed. First, Bowhay informed Kim Wagner, Bass’s boss, that he was not able to collect any discarded items along Bass’s delivery route after also informing Wagner that he was looking to collect DNA. Without that information, I argue that Wagner would never have volunteered to collect any discarded items from the employee break room.

Second, but of lesser importance, was Bowhay informing Wagner that Bass was being investigated as a suspect in Amanda Stavik’s murder.

Now the Court of Appeals determined that being tipped off to the investigation and what specifically Bowhay was looking for was not enough to make Wagner an “agent” of the government under the Washington Constitution. And my question is simply: why not?

Why is it enough for the sworn officer to say “I’m not going to direct you to do that” knowing the officer is about to receive that which the officer cannot obtain via warrant with probable cause? The police should not have been able to accept that evidence in the first place. Wagner completely sidestepped the detective’s efforts in finding DNA evidence. Wagner knew what Bowhay was after because he told her. Even if he didn’t direct her to get the evidence for him, and explicitly said he was not going to direct her, that he informed her of what he was looking for should be enough to get the evidence suppressed under the Fourth Amendment.

The detective shouldn’t be able to escape the Fourth Amendment by merely saying something along the lines of “I’m not going to tell you to do that”. The detective should have told her to NOT get it in the first place, and should’ve turned away the soda can and cup when it was given to them. A detective should not be able to tell what evidence they seek to someone with access to that evidence and then get around the Fourth Amendment by saying “I’m not going to tell you to do that” when the person they told says they’ll get them that evidence.

Detective Bowhay I feel knew that Wagner would get the evidence for him, and that is why he told Wagner what he was after, and told her that he was not able to obtain it himself.

And that he told Wagner what he was after, knowing she had access to what he needed, should be enough to get the evidence Wagner provided suppressed under the Fourth Amendment.


Failures of logic

DarkViperAU (“DVAU” or “Matt” herein) is a GTA-V speedrunner. (Twitch, YouTube) For over the last year, he’s been attempting to finish a start-to-finish no-damage run, using a mod to enforce certain requirements: 1 hit point to ensure any damage is fatal, and disabling Trevor’s power which reduces or eliminates the chance of damage from any hit. And he’s publicly streamed his attempts to make it easy to “clip” the stream where needed to examine why he was killed in a particular circumstance.

In May 2021, though, another GTA-V player going by UnNameD posted video of him succeeding at a feat that Matt has been attempting for so long.

Naturally skepticism abounded with plenty of attempts to poke holes in the video that was posted, with responses to those attempts by GTA-V experts also coming about. A lot of the responses, however, also amounted to dismissal without due consideration. A lot of critics were dismissed as merely “DarkViper fanboys” or some analog thereto, basically acting like no legitimate criticism is even possible if you liked or followed DVAU’s attempt.

And there are plenty of people who readily latched onto this run as legitimate purely because they, for some reason, do not like Matt.

And all around there has been a massive failure of logic that I will go into here.

Prior to posting his video segments to YouTube, UnNameD was an unknown in the GTA-V gaming communities. He, in short, “came out of nowhere”.

Matt has repeatedly demonstrated that a no-damage run requires a lot of skill along with some luck. No one really knew what UnNameD’s skill was in GTA-V. So when he posted his no-damage run, skepticism and criticism should not only have been expected, but welcomed.

UnNameD has made an extraordinary claim. And, as Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And video capture is also not infallible as evidence. Just look to one of the many cheating scandals in any speedrunning community for evidence on that.

And speaking of cheating, it is not unreasonable to accuse someone in UnNameD’s position – again, relative unknown, seemingly lesser skilled player – of cheating to accomplish such a great feat as a no-damage run in GTA-V. Indeed such accusations should be expected because cheating by lesser-known or unknown players who seem to accomplish a great feat “out of nowhere” is not without precedent.

And even cheating by established and known players of particular games is also not without precedent. The recent controversies involving Trackmania and Minecraft speedrunner Dream show this.

And another on this mark that readily comes to mind is Goose. (YouTube channel here) He is a well-established speedrunner for the N64 games Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark. He has cheated (video splicing, if I recall correctly) and publicly admitted to it. But he managed to redeem himself and establish himself on the leaderboards, including setting world records on some stages, by completing legitimate runs and doing whatever was demanded to establish that his world record accomplishments are legitimate.

Matt has shown through his public attempts the likelihood a no-damage run can be accomplished on a random GTA-V playthrough is exceedingly low. It takes practice and planning. So out of the gate, the likelihood that UnNameD’s run is legitimate is extraordinarily low given his apparent lack of history.

Meaning the likelihood UnNameD did cheat to accomplish his no-damage run is not zero. Showing screenshots of his GTA-V folder does not eliminate that likelihood as well since we cannot know if the folder he showed is the folder out of which he actually ran GTA-V for his run. Add to it the fact that filesystem dates and times can be modified quite trivially via Powershell (which is installed by default on all Windows 10 machines), so we can’t know if the screenshots were made before the run, or after the run when the filesystem timestamps had been modified.

And it’s the response to the cheating allegations that has demonstrated the massive failure of logic. Many of UnNameD’s supporters have equated the cheating allegations to “guilty until proven innocent”. That isn’t what’s happening here.

To say it is means we should accept UnNameD’s run as legitimate merely because he claims it to be rather than through his defenses to the contrary, or that his run should be deemed legitimate merely because someone raised a claim of cheating. The burden falls on UnNameD to defend his run against claims that it is not legitimate, answering the criticisms and controversies instead of they or their supporters dismissing it outright. This includes doing what they can to defang any cheating allegations as best as is reasonable.

One can say that no person should make a baseless claim of “cheating”. Baseless claims, though, are not automatically illegitimate. Again, though, cheating by players unknown to the larger gaming communities in which they are participating is not without precedent. And in my perception, based on my exposure to speedrunning and gaming controversies, it is equally likely that UnNameD did cheat as it is that they did not.

The fact UnNameD is an unknown to the GTA-V gaming communities works against them and all-but-guaranteed they’d be accused of cheating.

But why do I say that accusing them of cheating is not “guilty until proven innocent”? Simply because the burden of proof has always been on UnNameD to prove the run is legitimate. Cheating is merely one counter-claim of many that can be levied against the run. Someone who merely says “you cheated” should be dismissed without much thought. But someone who says “here’s why I think you cheated” should have their points addressed and not dismissed.

An allegation of cheating is a claim of illegitimacy against the run. But that allegation of cheating is not the equivalent of “guilty until proven innocent” as many have claimed because the burden of proof has always been on UnNameD to defend the run and prove it to be legitimate.

Firearm liability “insurance”

It’s a general rule of common or statutory law that insurance does not cover intentional actions. Yet, time and again, we see proposals for “gun liability insurance”. The recent call for it is from San Jose’s mayor:

And that way we can ensure that victims are compensated where there’s an insurable event. And of course, insurance companies will help us make gun possession safer.

Firearm homicides and assaults with deadly weapons are, typically, intentional actions. Which means the events the San Jose mayor envisions would be “insurable” aren’t. They are excluded by common or statutory law or State regulation. California specifically denies liability insurance coverage for intentional actions:

An insurer is not liable for a loss caused by the wilful act of the insured; but he is not exonerated by the negligence of the insured, or of the insured’s agents or others.

California Insurance Code §533

So this makes the San Jose mayor’s attempt to require such moot. Since California’s Insurance Code cannot allow for such. And where a municipal ordinance conflicts with State laws or regulations, the latter controls.

And, again, virtually every other State has a similar law or regulation.

AOC and the left’s disdain for charity

The left’s disdain for charity is long-documented. But the most recent example is coming “from the top”, so to speak. Recently Congresswoman Alexandria Occasio-Cortez tweeted a picture of her grandmother’s living conditions in Puerto Rico. In response, along with asking why AOC isn’t personally helping her family, pointing out AOC’s base salary as a House Representative, conservative commentator Matt Walsh set up a GoFundMe that eventually raised over 100 thousand USD.

And the funds have been rejected, leaving many scratching their heads.

The optics of the charity effort along with who began it is easily a reason the money was rejected. But it’s also poor optics on AOC’s part and her family to reject money that would be direct aid to someone in need. I mean who in their right mind would turn down $100 thousand? Even a billionaire I doubt would turn down that kind of money if it was being readily offered to them, even if they don’t “need” it.

So what’s going on here? Well it goes to something else that AOC pointed out in her tweet: the Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria relief funds from the Federal government and that Trump allegedly “blocked” those funds. One of Biden’s EOs was to end that stoppage.

Except Trump “blocked” those funds because of indications that Puerto Rico had not spent all of the money initially allocated to them. Why give them more if they still had money left over? And who was responsible for allocating the funds they had? It wasn’t the Federal government. That responsibility fell entirely to Puerto Rico.

But why is no one on the left castigating Puerto Rico for mismanagement of funds? Because PR has a leftist government, and this also gives leftists a reason to set them up for statehood, opening up the chance that Democrats will get two extra voting seats in the Senate to make it more difficult for Republicans to ever regain a majority there.

But the rejection also speaks to a larger disdain for charity from the left. (Except where it can be used as a political statement.) And this can be readily shown by looking at health care. Much of the policy ideas coming from the left are about making it so the world around them improves without them personally having to do anything. Instead, they basically want the government to do everything or fund everything. Because that’s easy.

It’s also passive and lazy because it doesn’t involve sacrificing anything. No time or money is directly expended on the part of the person calling for the government to do it.

Those of us who give to charity or directly help families in need? We’re the ones actually helping change the world.

Those who gave to that GoFundMe wanted to actually help AOC’s grandmother. Yes they were also making a side-handed political statement, but they were at least willing to give something of themselves to directly help someone in need.

But I guess they would more prefer government aid, with all the bureaucracy and red tape to go with it, over the direct assistance of charitable people. And largely I think it’s due to their disdain for charity and their complete unwillingness to actually admit that charity is a much better way of helping people compared to government aid.

But charity requires personal sacrifice. Giving your own time or money to help others. Government aid? That requires no significant personal sacrifice.

Plus it seems people are always more willing to spend someone else’s money than their own, to have the government force others to pay for what they want so those calling for the spending don’t have to do jack shit.

Cancel culture vs boycotts

In November 2020, law student Elizabeth Rose penned an article on Medium called “In Defense of Cancel Culture” in which she compared cancel culture with boycotting.

Cancel culture is essentially a boycott. Its refusing to participate or support those that promote racist, homophobic, sexist, transphobic, or otherwise ignorant behavior. Protest is at the heart of this country and it shouldn’t be limited in the name of making already powerful people feel safer to spew ideas that are not tolerable in today’s society.

Cancel culture and boycotts are two completely different things.

With a business, a boycott is publicly refusing to patron a business and trying to convince others to do the same. Related to it are the sit-ins, which is an attempt to block access to a business by occupying the business’s space without actually patroning them. Note this is not the same as people who visit a cafe and sit there merely to use their free WiFi without actually ordering anything.

The main problem with a boycott is that the business may not be substantially harmed by the boycott. The business may even prosper more from it. Look at the controversy behind Chick-Fil-A from 2012 as a ready example. They saw an increase in business when liberals (now largely called leftists) tried to get people to stop eating at Chick-Fil-A over the donation practices of the company’s non-profit organization. The company is still around, and there’s largely no indication they’ve changed course.

Which is why “cancel culture” is a thing. And why, to me at least, it’s no coincidence that what we have come to call “cancel culture” really took root in late 2012 into 2013, with one of the earliest examples of such being Justine Sacco. The passive act of doxxing giving way to the active pursuit of disrupting someone’s livelihood or getting a business shut down.

You see, the primary trouble with boycotts and doxxing is simply that nothing may come of it. An employer may not fire someone merely on the demand of an outrage mob. And a business may not only survive a boycott, but may actually do better because of it and thrive – e.g. again, Chick-Fil-A.

Cancel culture is about ensuring that doesn’t happen. It’s about ensuring the person or business, in essence, goes away.

And bringing in the government if necessary. Imagine instead of a government complaint the lesbian couple had instead merely tried to boycott Masterpiece Cakeshop. The bakery likely would’ve survived. That’s why they went through the government. They wanted that bakery gone.

To borrow another meme, cancel culture is the Karen. Whether they’re trying to get someone fired from their job or a business shut down.

An example I give that readily demonstrates this is Carson King. For those who don’t recall, he’s the guy who held up a sign during an Iowa/ISU game saying he needed beer money. And it turned into a large charity drive with Anheuser-Busch and other companies even getting involved – because a viral charity drive is good publicity when you commit to matching donations. Until a reporter for the Des Moines Register dredged through the guy’s tweets and found two from years past that were… problematic. Then Anheuser-Busch pulled the plug on any further donations, saying they’d fulfill what they’d already committed to, and other companies backed out.

What would’ve probably raised a lot of money for a good cause suddenly came to a crashing halt. It still did a lot of good in the short time it was going. But to end a charity drive over two old tweets is… despicable. But that’s also how “cancel culture” works. No good can overcome a perceived wrong. Inadvertently starting a million-dollar charity drive no longer matters once you’re painted as a racist.

ABC News has a good summary article on what happened: “Viral ‘beer money’ fundraiser erupts into racist tweets, a fired reporter and online drama

Some like to counter that “it’s not cancel culture, it’s accountability culture.” No it isn’t. Accountability implies a chance at redemption. And with “cancel culture”, there not only is not chance at redemption, but no interest in those doing the “canceling” at even giving you that opportunity.

So, no, “cancel culture” is not the modern boycott. They aren’t the same in the least because their ends aren’t the same. Boycotts are about getting a business to change course and fail if they don’t. Cancel culture is entirely about shutting down a business or getting a person fired, making the business owner or individual suffer a penalty far disproportionate to the perceived wrong they may have committed.

Again, cancel culture is not the modern boycott. Since a business may survive a boycott. And cancel culture is about ensuring that doesn’t happen.

Revisiting DotTune for Sigma and Tamron lenses

Back in January last year, I wrote an article clarifying one detail about the Dot Tune method for calibrating a Sigma lens. Sigma and Tamron lenses both can be individually calibrated at several different points. The prior article merely pointed out that “critical focus” for a Sigma and Tamron lens means the individual points noted in the Sigma and Tamron software.

But there was something else I came to realize with calibrating the Sigma and Tamron lenses.

Note: I’ve since migrated to the Nikon Z5 with the FTZ adapter, where the need to calibrate these lenses is basically nonexistent. And so I’ve cleared the calibrations from all my Sigma and Tamron lenses. So I’m putting this out for those who are still using DSLRs.

First, let’s revisit the original DotTune method as outlined in this video:

So here are the steps:

  1. Set up your target and camera – Nikon: set up for back-button AF (which you should be using anyway)
  2. Establish critical focus in Live View
  3. Switch to manual focus, if using a lens that doesn’t have MF override for AF – Nikon users: don’t do this
  4. Evaluate viewfinder focus confirmation
  5. Cycle AF tune values to find confirmed range
  6. Set final AF tune to the midpoint of that range

A couple other things to note:

  1. Turn off the image stabilization (VC for Tamron, OS for Sigma, etc.) if you can on the lens. This will make your life a LOT easier since the lens won’t try to compensate for anything. I discovered this in trying to tune my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2.
  2. Since all of your tuning will involve the center focus point, get your Live View and viewfinder focus point to the middle and lock it.

* * * * *

I pointed out in my prior article that “critical focus” for a Sigma or Tamron lens relies on the focus distance indicator on the lens when establishing focus in Live View. But I was wrong in how to actually calibrate the lens. It isn’t about finding one particular point that lands the solid dot, but moving the “confirmed range” up or down till its median value is as close to 0 as you can get.

The below steps will obviously apply to cameras with AF fine tuning. Prior to starting this, reset the lens to factory for its AF adjustments. Also bear in mind that you’re calibrating the lens to the camera, so once you calibrate the lens you’re likely not going to be able to move the lens to a different camera body and get similar results.

1. Set up your target and camera

Set up your target and camera with your camera (and lens) perpendicular to the target. Set the target to the distance you will be calibrating as shown in the focus distance scale on the lens.

2. Establish critical focus in Live View

Keep adjusting the target’s distance to the camera forward or backward based on where the focus lands. You want to make sure the focus distance indicator lines up where the Sigma/Tamron software determines it needs to be.

3. Switch off Live View. Set AF fine tune value to 0 for the lens.

4. Half-press the shutter button to evaluate the viewfinder focus confirmation

5. Cycle AF tune values to find the confirmed range.

This range and its median value will determine whether to adjust the value higher or lower. You want to aim for a fine tune range with a median at -1 to +1, 0 obviously being ideal. Median values below -1 mean you need to give it a lower number, while above +1 mean you need to go higher. If you have a range with a median at -1 to +1, you likely can’t dial it in any better than that.

Repeat this evaluation for all focal lengths at this focus distance. Primes having only one will obviously be much easier. For example, on my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, I’d need to evaluate at 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 70mm. Re-establish focus in Live View for each focal length. Bear in mind as well that focus breathing on your zoom lens may require you to adjust your distance to target.

6. Adjust the AF value up or down based on the confirmed range

This is definitely where you’ll need to keep track of your adjustments. A spreadsheet can help you here as well since you can use the built-in formulas to do your math: specifically the median function for evaluating the middle point between the low and high AF tune values.

Again in the end you’re looking for an AF tune value that produces a range with a median of -1 to +1 as best you can dial in.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the AF tune values for all focal lengths produce the desired median

8. Set the target to the next focus distance and repeat from step 2.

* * * * *

Bear in mind…

1. The target is important.

If you have a laser printer at home – yes, it needs to be a laser printer, not an inkjet – let me recommend using Lorem ipsum. You can find generators for it online quite easily. Take a page of it printed at various font sizes, with the larger font sizes for the longer focal distances. Times New Roman or Courier (looks like a typewriter) will probably be the best fonts for this as they should produce sharp results on your printer, but Arial should work as well.

Alternatively you can use one of the many focus testing images online. I cross-confirmed the calibration using the GhettoCAL template. I used only the square/circle pattern, not the distance scale. Printed out full size, it should produce about a 4″x4″ square, which I was able to use for my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lenses. Haven’t tried yet on my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, but I suspect it likely won’t work nearly as well and I’ll need a larger target. And more room.

Exponentially so if I were to try it with my Sigma 150-600mm…

2. Values you set at shorter focal lengths will affect longer focal lengths

And on some lenses, each value may actually affect each other, so make sure to reconfirm all values – though this doesn’t appear to be the case on any lens I’ve calibrated thus far. So if you’re tuning a zoom lens, such as my aforementioned Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, make sure you have a comfortable setup for testing and programming the lens as you’re gonna be at it for a while.

3. Adjusting by just ±1 could have significant effect

The tune values for your lens compared to the fine tune values in camera are obviously not the same. And adjusting by +1 on the lens could adjust your median by -2 or even -3. So if you have a median of -4, for example, adjusting just -1 could bring your median to -2 or even -1.

4. Don’t be afraid to set a baseline offset

If your AF fine tune is similar to the Nikon D7200, you have the option to set a “Default” AF fine tune value that applies to all lenses. Any additional per-lens fine tuning then adjusts relative to that. This can allow you to test a baseline offset for a lens when fine-tuning.

If you find your Sigma or Tamron lens is very heavily front focusing or back focusing, setting the “Default” to +10 or -10, respectively, (or another value depending on where things lie) before dialing in the lens further in the Sigma or Tamron software could allow you to bring things under control better.

Adjusting the baseline offset may also make the difference between a calibration that you can’t quite get zeroed in, dancing between -2 (or -3) and +2 (or +3) with a ±1 adjustment in the software and one that lands on a median of ±1 or 0.

Then once you have the lens dialed in, whatever you set as the “Default” will be the baseline offset for the lens set in the AF Fine Tune, with the default reset to 0.