Uploading pictures to Instagram from Firefox on a desktop

I have an Instagram. Kind of.

And I despise that it doesn’t let you upload pictures from a desktop. At least out-of-the-box, it doesn’t allow for it. There is a way around it. Since I use Firefox primarily, I’ll be discussing that browser only. And this guide doesn’t require any plugins. Nothing to install.

Doing this involves a feature in Firefox called “Responsive Design Mode”, which is a way of testing websites on a couple mobile platforms. If you have a website, this feature comes in very handy for testing if your site is platform “responsive”

First, open a new tab or window. There are two ways to open “Responsive Design Mode”. Ctrl+Shift+M is the keyboard shortcut. If you don’t want to do that, then open the Options menu, and select “Web Developer” down near the bottom.

Then select “Responsive Design Mode”.

At the top you should see a toolbar, one of which is a drop-down with several devices listed. You’ll see I already have “Kindle Fire HDX” selected, but there are several other options. Unfortunately I’ve found this really only works with one of the phone options. But at least it works!

Now, just go to Instagram. You’ll see their page is “responsive”. You should also see the + icon down at the bottom, which will allow you to select a picture from your desktop to upload as if you were on a tablet or phone.

All the functionality is there without the pain of having to use the on-screen keyboard to type out a description or enter hashtags.

Winner-take-all is not unconstitutional

Article: Winner-take-all presidential elections: Unconstitutional and unfair to voters in 48 states

I’ve openly advocated for the Nebraska/Maine model for the Electoral College, believing it to be a more fair representation of votes across the country. Even going so far as to conduct a math experiment showing this in practice. Somewhat. My experiment more favored a proportional distribution compared to district distribution of votes. I showed that if that model had been universal, the landslide Electoral College victories of the 20th century wouldn’t have nearly been such a landslide. But it also wouldn’t have changed the outcome: the winner would still be the winner.

I know that getting the Nebraska/Maine model universally across the country is wishful thinking. As much as I’d love to see it happen, if California isn’t willing to adopt it, no other State will follow suit.

But a recent article by Bill Weld and Sanford Levinson, linked above, is going so far as to say that the current “winner take all” model for how States award Electoral Votes is unconstitutional. Sorry, but not even close.

And they assert such through three arguments:

  1. Winner-take-all is anti-democratic;
  2. Millions of votes translate into zero; and
  3. Red state or blue, voters would benefit

The United States is not a democracy. I really despise how often I need to reassert that.

As such being “anti-democratic” is actually the point. The President is to be appointed by the States, not by popular vote. The States just have a bit of latitude in determining how that should happen. Though all States present that question to the People via popular vote, despite being under no obligation to do so under the Constitution.1

That isn’t to say there aren’t any limitations on how the States can award those votes. And that is why, I’ve argued, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is unconstitutional. If a State turns to the People therein to determine how to award the Electoral Votes, then they must not award them in such fashion that is obviously contrary to how those people vote.

And the NPVIC would force that. Had that Compact been in effect in 2004, it would’ve forced the member “blue States” to award their votes to George W. Bush despite the people in those States voting for John Kerry. Something those pushing the NPVIC seem to forget. Do they believe a Republican candidate hasn’t won the popular vote since 1988?

Winner-take-all is not contrary to how the people vote. It’s the name of the game with all Federal and State elections, actually, in which, routinely, “millions of votes translate into zero”. Specifically with the House of Representatives. So why not argue for Representatives to also be elected proportional to the vote rather than via congressional districts?

As I’ve argued in a separate article, proportional award of the Electoral Votes would more accurately represent the popular vote in a State. It would also allow third party candidates to win Electoral Votes where they otherwise would lose out – such as the significant number of votes Ross Perot won in 1992 and 1996, and again with Gary Johnson in 2016. It would also be more in line to how both Democrats and Republicans award delegates in their primaries.

But since “winner take all” doesn’t run contrary to how the People vote, it isn’t unconstitutional.

References   [ + ]

1. Article II § 3 of the Constitution: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress”

Another adaptation

Yet another one came to my e-mail today, this one slightly different from previous ones. So basically it’s the same empty threat with slightly different wording.

i know [REDACTED] oně of yōur passphrases. Lets get straight to the pūrpōsě. Nōně has compensátěd me to chěck you. Yōu máy not know me and yoū arě mōst lĺkěly wōndering why you are gettĺng this e-máil?

i sětup á sōftwárě on the X vĺdeos (ádult porn) web-sĺtě and guess what, you vĺsited thĺs website to experience fun (yōū know whát i mean). When yōu werě vĺewing videos, yōur internet browsěr initiated opěrating ás a Rěmōte contrōl Desktop havĺng a key logger which provided me with access tō your display and web camerá. Jūst after thát, my softwarě cōllěcted your entire contacts frōm your Messenger, FB, ánd ě-mailaccōunt. and then i crěáted a double vĺdeo. 1st párt shōws thě viděo you wěre watching (yoū hávě a nĺce taste hahah), and next part dĺspláys thě vĺew of yōur cam, ánd its u.

You have two possibilities. Sháll we check out each one of thesě solutĺons in details:

1st altěrnátĺve is to dĺsrěgard this e-maĺl. as a consěquěnce, ĺ will send ōut yoūr very own vĺdeo tō jūst ábout all of your contacts and alsō think concerning the awkwardness yoū wĺll defĺnĺtely get. Nōt to forget if you happen to be ĺn a romantĺc rělationshĺp, how thĺs will affect?

Numběr two alternative shoūld be to compensatě me $1726. i will refěr to it as a donation. as á consěquence, i most certainly will ĺmmědĺately remove your videotape. Yōu will keěp goĺng your way ōf lifě like this never ōccurred and you surely wĺll never hear báck ágain from me.

Yōu will máke the páyment by Bitcoin (if yōu don’t know this, search ‘how to buy bĺtcoin’ in Goōglě).

BTC address tō send tō:

[case SeNSiTiVe so cōpy & páste it]

ĺf you may bě thĺnkĺng of going tō thě áūthōritiěs, věry wěll, this e-mail cán not be traced back to me. i have děalt with my stěps. i am also nōt trying to chárge yoū a whōlě lot, ĺ would lĺke to be páid. i havě a spěcific pĺxel within this emaĺl, and now i knōw that yōu háve rěad through thĺs měssage. Yoū now háve one day to pay. if ĺ don’t receive the BitCoĺns, i definitely will send ōut yōūr video to all ōf yōur cōntacts including members of yōur family, co-workěrs, ánd so forth. Havĺng sáid that, if i receive the payměnt, i will ěrase thě recōrding ĺmmědiatěly. if you want to have evidence, reply Yūp! ánd i will send your videō rěcording to yōur 10 frĺends. Thĺs is a nōn:negotiáble ōffer, therefore do not wástě my time and yōūrs by respōnding tō thĺs ěmail.


And here’s the original tweet:

And no one is saying it isn’t.

But can we stop acting like gay “representation” in entertainment is something new this decade? And I mean that for everyone.

Will & Grace in it’s initial run from 1998 to 2005 was a rather popular show. Will is a gay man, and so is Jack, one of Will and Grace’s friends. But it wasn’t a show all about Will and Jack being gay and how much they love (or don’t) that they’re gay. It was just one aspect of who they were. They aren’t token gay characters – especially since you can’t really build a multi-season television show around that. They are believable, charming, funny characters for whom being homosexual was just one part of who they were, not the entirety of who they are.

Many other shows as well over the years have had gay characters in one vein or another.

Roseanne had several during its initial run. I believe that show was the first on broadcast television to have recurring gay and bisexual characters: Leon Carp and Nancy Bartlett, respectively. The show was very open about homosexuality and portraying homosexuals as otherwise ordinary people. Imagine that!

The show was the first production to feature a gay wedding in the episode “December Bride“, which aired in 1995, in which Leon marries his fiance Scott (played by Fred Willard), who would become another recurring character on the show with both being good family friends to the Connors. It also showed a rather creative way in which Scott gets some pro revenge on one of Roseanne’s restaurant patrons.

Leon and Roseanne had a contentious relationship at first – Leon was previously Roseanne’s boss – before they eventually become good friends and business partners in Roseanne’s restaurant. Nancy had long been one of Roseanne’s best friends.

The Practice ran from 1997 to 2004 with a diverse recurring cast, and an even more diverse guest lineup across its eight (8) seasons. John Larroquette played Joey Heric, a character who appeared several times in the show’s lineup. His lovers also had a rather… interestingly alarming tendency to end up dead. Heric was also gay. He was a deranged psychopath who delighted in manipulating the legal system to get away with murder. But he was also gay.

It is possible to have a compelling narrative around gay characters merely for those characters being gay. The Simpsons managed to do just that with the episode called “Homer’s Phobia” in 1997. And the Roseanne episode “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from 1994 also accomplished this. But those were also singular episodes, though, not entire series runs.

What about movies? Aside from movies that happened to have gay characters – Gypsy 83 starring Sara Rue comes to mind (kind of a niche film) – were there any movies centered around gay characters merely for them being gay? And by that, I don’t mean film festival movies, but movies starring A-list celebs? Absolutely.

Readily coming to mind is a movie from 1997. Yes, 1997. Kevin Kline starred as Howard Brackett in In & Out. (See it at Amazon Prime, YouTube) Howard was engaged to Emily (played by Joan Cusack), ready to be married, until his life and his town were turned upside down when he was “outed” at the Oscars on national television by Cameron Drake, a celebrity actor from their town. Drake had just won the Oscar for Best Actor for portraying a gay man in the US Army who is dishonorably discharged for that (this was before DADT). And as part of his “thank you speech”, he mentioned Howard and declared him to be gay.

Eventually Howard comes to realize he is gay and comes to terms with his sexuality, coming out at the altar of all places, after being “helped” along by Peter Malloy, a reporter who is also gay played by Tom Selleck. Howard also loses his job due to coming out. Upon learning that at graduation, when they’re surprised Howard isn’t named “Teacher of the Year”, the student body and local community come together in protest to support Howard.

Remember that movie was made in 1997. It’s a very good movie and I highly recommend it. I remember sneaking out to see it as well during high school. I forget what I told my dad I actually intended to do, but he handed me $10 and I went to see it at the local theater in small town Iowa. And everyone in the theater found the movie absolutely hilarious as well. No one as far as I could tell took any issue with the movie being centered around a gay man. No one took issue with Kline’s gay kiss with Tom Selleck.

So, in all seriousness, can we stop acting like gay “representation” in entertainment only started this decade?

* * * * *

Now one can say all they want that an author shouldn’t need a reason to make a character gay, black, trans, or pink with purple polka-dots that change color when rain approaches. And they would be right. What’s needed, though, is a relevant and compelling narrative reason to bring up their sexuality at all. See the aforementioned examples above.

In other words a character being gay or another minority isn’t a story unto itself. We need a compelling narrative around or about the character.

One ready example is Miles Morales, a black-Latino Spider-Man featured in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which saw great box-office success. Morales also isn’t just a “black Spider-Man”, Peter Parker with darker skin but otherwise nothing new to offer. He’s a fleshed-out character in his own right. Unfortunately we likely won’t have Miles Morales in a live-action MCU movie anytime soon, though I’m hoping the sequel to Far From Home brings him in.

Speaking of Spider-Man, though, the new MJ – Michele Jones – is also not a biracial version of the previous MJ – Mary Jane Watson. She’s a new character in her own right with her own narrative.

Also from Marvel is Big Hero 6, which features a diverse cast of teenagers working as a team, each with their own personalities and quirks. The Pixar film based on the comics also saw great box-office success.

And no mention of Marvel would be complete without mentioning Nick Fury, since it plays into the new controversy regarding Ariel in the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid. The original Nick Fury was white. In the Ultimate Marvel universe, he’s heavily adapted after Samuel L. Jackson. Likely the reason that adaptation of Fury was adopted in the MCU. But SLJ’s version of Nick Fury isn’t just a carbon copy of the original Fury with black skin. He’s a new, compelling character. And, arguably, a lot more bad-ass than the original. Because it’s Samuel L. Jackson, so why would he NOT be?

But let’s get back to homosexuality and making characters gay just so one can claim a movie or television show has a gay character.

How to Get Away with Murder” is another show with a diverse recurring and very diverse guest cast. And recurring character Connor Walsh is gay. Very, very overtly so, actually. But he isn’t just a “token gay character”, a character that exists just to say there’s a gay character. Unlike previously-mentioned characters, his sexuality is actually a very important part of his narrative. As in several instances he cleverly uses it to his advantage, taking advantage of a couple other gay men to get what he needs. And breaking up Michelle’s engagement as well. (Oops!)

Again, though, it seems a lot of people are insisting on making characters gay or what have you for literally no reason except “representation”. Even with characters whose sexuality bears no relevance to the narrative.

Which brings me to Albus Dumbledore. Why did Rowling never mention in the books that he’s gay? It isn’t relevant. Just as it wouldn’t be relevant if Rowling wanted to declare McGonagall to be bisexual. Or say that any of Ron Weasley’s brothers are gay or bi or transsexual. Hermione and Ginny could’ve been a thing at one point for all we know. But almost all of those details would more distract from the narrative than add to it.

Which is what makes Hikaru Sulu’s sexuality in Star Trek Beyond a little nerve-wracking. It was put there merely because George Takei publicly stated he’s gay. No, seriously, that’s the only reason that happened. So they just presumed that Sulu must be gay as well merely because George Takei is gay. But it’s an otherwise irrelevant detail. And there is also no narrative indicator of it throughout the entirety of the original series, including the original movies, hence the backlash to it being included.

This would be like Sara Gilbert trying to assert Darlene Connor as a lesbian in the aforementioned Roseanne merely due to Gilbert being a lesbian. Except that would be worse since it would run counter to the established storyline rather than there being no narrative reason to believe it.

At least David Hyde Pierce hasn’t tried asserting his character of Niles Crane on Frasier as gay. If he were to try, he’d face a significant backlash as such would run counter to everything in the entire 11 seasons of the show. Including one episode where Niles overtly says he is not gay, declining the advances of a gay ski instructor. Indeed his entire run as the character shows how brilliant an actor he can be, as corroborated by being nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Best Supporting Actor every year he played the character. And winning 4 times.

Worst still than that with Frasier would be if Dan Butler tried to retroactively declare his character “Bulldog” Brisco to be gay merely because Butler is gay. Again, it would run completely counter to the character, as anyone who’s familiar with the show would readily say.

And Frasier had its share of gay characters as well through its 11 season run. I’ve already mentioned the gay ski instructor. There was also Lilith’s husband, Brian, who ran off with another man, so she sleeps with Niles to reassert her femininity. But also look for the episode that guest-starred Patrick Stewart. And there was also another episode in which Frasier questions his sexuality following a series of gay erotic dreams.

* * * * *

“But, representation!”

Here’s the thing about writing fiction in general: don’t show what is not relevant. Meaning don’t show a person getting romantically involved with another character unless and until it’s relevant to the narrative.

I think what really has the “representation!” crowd’s panties in a bunch is presumption. That if the reader is not told or outright shown a character is gay, they fear the audience will presume the character is straight. Seriously?

Let me ask this: did anyone really presume that Sherlock Holmes was straight? The original character, not the adaptation portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr.

“But what about Irene Adler?” one may ask in protest, trying to assert that Adler shows that Holmes is straight. Not quite. Here is Watson’s description of Holmes and his fascination with Adler in “A Scandal in Bohemia”:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer — excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results.

Adler is the only woman to outsmart him. Holmes readily presumes most people he encounters to be intellectually inferior to him. He undoubtedly thought such of Adler. Yet she managed to outsmart him, outwit him. For that he has forever respected her. His fascination with her was never romantic, but always intellectual. She was the woman.

To take their connection and assert that Holmes is undoubtedly heterosexual requires reading well beyond what is evident in the storyline. Indeed Watson’s description of Holmes places him, if he must be labeled, as asexual. He also rarely shows really any emotion, believing it to inhibit his reasoning ability.

And there are numerous other characters for whom we can say their sexuality is largely irrelevant and for which there is also no narrative indicator in any direction. Palpatine comes to mind. He lusts only for power. Most of the Jedi neuter or spay themselves with the Force (and some probably literally so) so who knows what kind of mixed bag existed there. The same with most of the officers in the various Star Trek renditions. This includes Hikaru Sulu.

In all the above cases, their sexuality largely didn’t matter since it doesn’t serve any particular narrative. If someone wants to presume those characters are all straight, gay, or bisexual, that’s their prerogative. But there isn’t anything in the narrative they can use to support such a presumption.

Again, the pushback isn’t about having gay or lesbian characters since, again, there have been plenty over the years that have been very well-received by audiences. I’ve already demonstrated plenty of examples above. The pushback is about having a gay or lesbian character without any substance, or making a character gay or lesbian overtly for no narrative reason. Or taking an established character and making that character gay or bisexual either for no narrative reason or in contradiction to all established narrative.

Yes we know that homosexuals exist. And homosexuals have been portrayed in television and other media for the last several decades, if not longer, without issue. There are and have been many well-received gay and lesbian characters over the years.

It is in recent years, however, where people seem to think this is only a recent phenomenon.

At the same time, if “representation” really concerns you, make new, compelling characters who are also homo or bisexual rather than insisting on changing or “rebooting” established characters with the sexuality or other minority status of your choice.

Once a government…

A friend of mine recently tagged me on Facebook to ask my opinion on this. Below is my response with some enhancements and additions.

* * * * *

Quoting for accessibility:

  • Once a government provides you with basic utilities –
    • The government can then decide when to turn them on and off.
  • Once a government pays for all your education –
    • The government can then control the education and career you get to have.
  • Once a government provides you with food
    • The government can then decide how much or if you get to eat.
  • Once a government pays for your housing –
    • The government can then control where you can live.
  • Once a government pays for your healthcare and medicine
    • The government can control whether or not you are valuable enough to allow to live.
  • Once a government gets you to agree to gun control
    • You have NO way to prevent that government from doing everything listed above

* * * * *

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.

— Paul Harvey, “Remember These Things“, 1952

“Once government provides you with basic utilities -“

I live in a county where the county provides the water and electricity. Right now they can’t cut off utilities for anything except failure to pay. But there is nothing except diligence by voters stopping them from instituting other… conditions on your utilities. It’s one of the reasons off-grid power (solar panels with battery backups) is growing in popularity in places where counties control the basic utilities.

“Once the government pays for all your education -“

We already see this to an extent. With the education, not yet the career. The government controls the curriculum. We saw this with the introduction of “common core”, which was introduced by government fiat without any kind of say by the teachers and parents, and in some instances against any protest.

Which it’s rather interesting how the left pushes back against the right’s badly-veiled attempts to get creationism in public schools, yet largely didn’t push back against “common core” when it was introduced… while Obama was in office.

Until they saw what that meant.

At which point it was largely too late to do anything.

“Once government provides you with food -“

All you have to do is look at the SNAP program. Plus we had rationing by government fiat “for the war effort” during the Second World War. Many New Deal programs also instituted massive controls over the American economy for the explicit purpose of bringing the Great Depression to an end.

Except there is consensus among economists that the New Deal programs prolonged the Great Depression. That’s why when those programs were ended after the War, we had massive prosperity going into the 1950s after a short stint with another depression immediately after the war. Yes, contrary to what people have been led to believe, the Second World War didn’t actually end the Great Depression. It just pushed it to the side.

“Once the government pays for your housing -“

Section 8 housing already falls within this.

When you have a choice over where to live, landlords will compete for your money. Most renters can get up and leave most any month, so a lot of landlords will do what they can to keep you there. Because vacant apartments and homes are cash sinks. The landlord is responsible for utilities and upkeep when no one is living there, and they have no income from rent to offset the mortgage, property insurance, and property taxes.

With Section 8, however, while vacant apartments pose the same issue to the property, how much they get for each apartment is also controlled by the government. Who can live there is also controlled by the government – there is an income CAP at such complexes, because if you make too much, you don’t qualify for the Section 8 assistance.

But everything I’ve read about Section 8 housing also shows it to be “bottom of the barrel” in terms of quality, because the complex knows that those who live there largely don’t have any other choice. So there’s no need to compete with other Section 8 complexes for residents.

And that’s largely the crux of giving the government so much control over our lives: it takes away our choices. And without choices, you don’t really have any freedom.

“Once a government pays for your healthcare and medicine -“

And this is happening in countries with universal health care. Proponents of “health care as a right” don’t want to talk about that reality because they seem to think they can tax the rich enough that everyone else will be prosperous and everyone will get whatever care they need regardless of the cost.

Which shows they don’t understand wealth as a concept, nor do they understand the basic realities of economics.

There are numerous horror stories about universal health care. Much the same horror stories with private health insurance – grandma not getting her medicine, kind of stuff – only it’s patients being left to die in hospitals so the beds will be freed up, surgeries being denied or massively delayed, and other forms of rationing such as wait lists to see a doctor, and so on. At least in the United States, you’ll get care if you need it, even if it’s at an emergency room – where I ended up back in March (with the premium to go with it) when I had that dental abscess flare into massive swelling in my jaw and cheek. And there are charities and foundations and other forms of financial aid to help with the cost. And, yes, crowdfunding as well.

Whatever care is *necessary* to your wellbeing, you can get it in the US, and the hospitals and clinics will help you figure out how to cover the cost later. If you need prescription meds and can’t afford it, the manufacturers have programs where you can get your medicine at reduced or no out-of-pocket cost, either through a local pharmacy or directly from them (with some exceptions as required by law, e.g. opiates).

One thing to bear in mind with so-called “universal” health care and “health care as a right”: he who pays the piper calls the tune. And while many would consider the idea the government should decide who gets to continue living is far-fetched, it also isn’t new.

And I think it would be a good thing to make everybody come before a properly-appointed board – just as he might come before the income tax commissioners – and, say, every 5 years or every 7 years, just put him there and say, “Sir or Madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence?”

If you can’t justify your existence, if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat, if you’re not producing as much as you consume, or perhaps a little more, then, clearly, we cannot use the big organization of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.

— George Bernard Shaw, playwright and Fabian socialist

“Once a government gets you to agree to gun control -“

Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote.

— Marvin Simkin in his article “Individual Rights”, 1992-01-12

Majority rule will only work if you’re considering individual rights. You can’t have five wolves and one sheep vote on what they want to have for supper.

— Larry Flynt

While democracy is five wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner, a well-armed sheep can contest that vote. Whether the sheep prevails is immaterial. What matters is whether the sheep has the ability to do so. Not having that ability means a 0% chance of prevailing. And it seems that a lot of people on the left want everyone else (who doesn’t agree with them lock step) left without the ability to contest.

With self defense, a firearm is the ultimate equalizer. It can stop a confrontation that is escalating from escalating further. It gives a 125lb, 5′-tall woman power to defend herself against a 6′-tall, 250lb man. It gives an older man the ability to prevail against a younger, stronger, more agile person who initiated a violent confrontation.

Rifles gave the Colonists the power to fight off what was then perceived as the most powerful military in the world. Which is why the first task of that military, which directly led to the Revolution, was seizing arms from those colonists.

Until the late 19th century in the United States, the People had the same firepower as the government. There was no distinction between civilian and military weaponry “meant for the battlefield”. It was only going into the 20th century that there started to be a power disparity in that regard that only grew from there. Even in the 19th century, private merchant vessels had cannons to ward off pirates. Today… not even cruise liners have armed security, and most who sail their own yachts also don’t keep arms onboard. Granted the saltwater air over the open ocean would wreak havoc on the steel in most firearms, but there are ways to combat that. After all they needed that kind of protection for the cannons and cannonballs.

Now the First and Second World Wars drove a massive arms race in which the United States ultimately won the checkered flag. But in the United States while war drove advancements in arms, those advancements eventually made it to private hands. And with personal arms (rifles, pistols, etc.), this has still held true. But not with everything else.

Instead the only thing that would keep the “everything else” from being turned on the People of the United States are the military officers in charge of that “everything else”. Officers who take an oath to the Constitution of the United States, not the government. But as we saw during the Second World War, even military officers aren’t immune from the kind of brainwashing that could push them to turn their firepower on the people they are supposed to be defending from tyranny, not installing tyranny over.

A little more aggressive, but still the same scam

Just got this one today. It came with the subject as the username for my primary e-mail address and an old password I know they harvested from a data dump. And it’s a similar play on character substitution that I’ve seen before.

A quick note: I added the link to the Bitcoin address. It was not in the original e-mail, which was just plaintext (with a lot of Unicode characters, as you’ll see). It just goes to Blockchain.info and shows a summary of all transactions linked to that address. As of this posting, there are no transactions on that wallet.

Do you rālly thĺnk it wās some kind of joke or that you can ignore me?

I can see what yŏu āre dŏing.

Stop shopping and fucking around, your time is ālmŏst ovr. Yea, I know what you wr dŏing past couple of dāys. I have ben observing you.

Btw. nic car yoų hāv got there.. I wonder how ĺt will look with pics of yŏur dick and fāce…

Because yoų think you are smarter ānd can disregārd me, I am posting th vidos I recorded with yŏu masturbatĺng tŏ the pŏrn right now. I will upload the vidŏs I acqųired along wĺth some of your detaĺls to the online fŏrum. I amsur they will love to see you in āction, and yŏu will soon discŏver whāt is goĺng to hāppen to you.

If you do nŏt fund this bitcoĺn address with $1000 within next 2 days, I will contact yoųr rlātives and evrybody on your contact lĺsts and show them your rcordings.



0.1 bitcŏin (i. approx $1000)

to this Bitcoin āddress:


(Copy and paste ĺt)


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Mississippi man facing 7th trial on same charges

The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is quite simple in its language:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

It is arguably the most overlooked Amendment to the Constitution. But it is also the most important in my opinion. I’ve argued here that even if the Second Amendment were repealed, the Ninth Amendment would still preserve a right to keep and bear arms. Removing the enumeration of it from the Constitution doesn’t erase the right.

And it is the Amendment that has been cited whenever the Supreme Court of the United States “finds” rights, such as the right to privacy inherent to several other protections the Supreme Court has afforded the People.

Among the enumerated rights in the Constitution is the protection against double jeopardy. But the trade-off on this protection is the Courts declaration of when jeopardy “attaches”. And generally it’s accepted that jeopardy attaches when a jury renders a verdict. But jeopardy is nullified if the conviction is overturned and a new trial ordered.

Which is why a man in Mississippi is currently facing a 7th trial on the same charges. I wish I was making that up.

49 year-old Curtis Flowers is facing his 7th trial on capital murder charges. His most recent conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States, citing racial bias in the jury selection.1 Trials four and five ended in hung juries.

One could definitely argue that, even though jeopardy technically hasn’t attached to Flowers, the Constitution does not allow what appears to be seemingly endless attempts to get a conviction that sticks. While the Constitution specifically calls out double jeopardy in the Fifth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment surely protects a right against endless attempts to get a conviction.

Right now Flowers is trying to get the indictment quashed while also trying to secure bail, saying there should be a limit to “oppressive retrials”. And I agree. Six tries is beyond too many. This man has been in and out of jail, on trial and not for 20 years. At what point do the Courts say that enough is enough and quash an indictment with prejudice? Flowers’ case should become precedent on that mark.

References   [ + ]

1. Flowers v. Mississippi, 588 US ___ (2019)

So close to getting it right

Article: What’s the Statute of Limitations on Credit Card Debt?

A lot of articles get debt collection wrong in some way or another. I’ve yet to find an article that gets the facts completely correct that I didn’t also write. And so too is that the case with the article above discussing the statute of limitations. Which is a topic even the United States Federal government, specifically the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, got horribly wrong.

Why do these writers insist on telling debtors to ask debt collectors whether a debt is still within the statute of limitations?

First the statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time a creditor has to pursue a debt through the Court. That is all. It doesn’t mean they cannot come after you outside Court for the debt. The only way to stop that is to send them a letter – yes, it must be in writing – telling them to stop contacting you.

So how long is the statute of limitations? Well, that depends. I’ve typically said the statute of limitations depends on the resident State of the debtor. That is… not entirely true. And the article linked above reminded me of one particular concept in contract law that slipped from my mind because it typically isn’t something we need to worry about.

The duration of the statute depends on which state is identified in the contract or the state you live in, and the type of debt in question.

“depends on which state is defined in the contract” brings up the concept of contract jurisdiction and the jurisdiction clause. This clause provides for which State’s laws shall control the contract terms along with the specific Court that shall have original jurisdiction for any claims arising under it. As an example, here’s a jursidiction clause from a photography agreement I’ve written:

This agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Kansas and Johnson County therein, and the laws of the United States of America where applicable. The Parties submit to the jurisdiction of the Johnson County District Court, Tenth Judicial District of Kansas, for adjudication of any disputes and/or claims arising under this agreement.

The Parties submit to the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas for any claims arising under any statute of the United States Code, including, but not limited to, any claims regarding copyright.

Most of the time, the jurisdiction of the contract will be the Court of competent jurisdiction over the party accepting the offer in the contract. When I lived in Clarke County, Iowa, for example, any contracts I signed to which I was accepting an offer would likely state such. It tends to make things much easier on both parties. For example if you sign a contract for any kind of remodeling or construction on a home, that work must abide by the building codes for where the work is taking place, so that will generally be the stated jurisdiction of the contract.

But any jurisdiction statement is still subject to the law where the contract was enacted.

For credit contracts, however, any jurisdiction statement is overridden by Federal law, specifically 15 USC § 1692i(a), which provides that any legal action – again, the jurisdiction for enforcing the contract – must be brought in the Court over which the contract was signed (where you lived when you opened the credit account), or the Court over which the debtor resides at the time of the lawsuit.

So if you live in New Hampshire and the credit contract tries to stipulate that all actions under that contract shall be enforced by a Court in Hawaii, that clause is unenforceable under Federal law unless you lived in Hawaii when you signed the credit contract. Not to mention that clause would likely also be unenforceable under Hawaii law since you live in New Hampshire, so Hawaii wouldn’t have jurisdiction over you with regard to the ongoing enforcement of the contract.

Not saying such doesn’t happen. There’ve likely been shady creditors who’ve tried to do that. But the vast, vast, vast majority of debt collection lawsuits are filed where the debtor lives, since having the judgment through that Court opens up enforcement options. As an example from my history, I used to have a credit card with CapitalOne. I lived in Polk County, Iowa, when I opened the account. And it fell into collections while living there as well. But I lived in Clay County, Missouri, when they sued me, and they sued me through the Missouri 7th Judicial District Court in Clay County.

But with regard to the statute of limitations, which laws control? That depends on where the creditor seeks to enforce the contract. Again Federal law gives them only two options: where you lived when you opened the credit account, and where you live when they file the lawsuit. So when it comes to the statute of limitations, those are the only two controlling options, contrary to the article:

Check your original agreement for language specifying a choice of state law or “governing law” that might apply to your debt. Although courts are not bound to this choice, it may impact which statute of limitations that courts may consider in their decision.

“Governing law” is another name for the jurisdiction clause I mentioned earlier.

A Court cannot enforce laws outside its jurisdiction. The contract cannot override that. A contract legally cannot state that the parties will seek to enforce the contract in Kansas while its “governing law” will be Florida, for example, since Kansas Courts cannot apply Florida’s laws. They can only enforce and apply Kansas law since it is under Kansas law the Kansas Courts are established.

The article goes on to talk about debt re-aging and how to avoid it. This is where my earlier question comes in: why do these writers insist on the debtor asking the creditor if a debt is time-barred?

The Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires a debt collector to respond honestly when asked whether a debt is time-barred. A debt collector can contact you about the debt but might not mention that the debt is time-barred or might choose not to answer you.

Or they may choose to say “I don’t know” since they likely can’t really know. Answering that question would require knowing the entire payment history of the debt, something the collector may not have readily available.

Beyond that, an expired statute of limitations is an affirmative defense to a lawsuit, to be raised by the defendant to the lawsuit at Court. It means literally nothing outside of Court. No, seriously, it doesn’t. As the above-linked article states, correctly, nothing in law stops a debt collector from continuing to pursue a time-barred debt outside Court. Nothing, that is, except you telling them in writing to stop contacting you.

So let’s say you have a time-barred debt, and the collector is threatening to sue you. The article writer suggests… filing a complaint with the FTC.

You can submit a complaint to the FTC regarding unfair debt collection practices, such as if the collector threatens to sue you for a time-barred debt.


Here’s the thing about filing a complaint with the Federal government: nothing will come of it unless they get a lot of complaints about one company. So there really isn’t much of a point. They won’t act on singular complaints, and likely won’t act on any complaints if they all come from one State with the company also being located within that State since that may fall outside their jurisdiction. Remember the Constitution grants the Federal government only the power to regulate interstate commerce.

Instead you’re better off just telling the debt collector to stop contacting you. Don’t tell them you think the debt is time-barred. Don’t tell them you know the debt is time-barred. Just tell them only to stop contacting you without any reason. Once you’re certain the debt is time-barred, that is. Since the burden will be on you if you’re sued to prove it to the Court. Meaning if the creditor can show the debt has been re-aged or that your records aren’t accurate and the debt isn’t time-barred due to a payment you forgot you made, you’re sunk, and you’ve got a judgment against you now as well.

Navigate the waters of the statute of limitations carefully. If you’re absolutely certain the debt is time-barred, then proceed forth in telling the debt collectors to go away, as you’ll have your legal defense ready should they sue. Otherwise, proceed carefully by exercising your legal right to debt validation.

Taxing firearms

Article: Don’t Ban Assault Weapons – Tax Them

I’ve said before (here and here) that subtle racism largely fuels the calls for greater financial burdens on firearm owners and buyers. Any financial barrier to the exercise of a right is no better than the poll taxes that were outlawed with the 24th Amendment.

So why are gun control advocates continually proposing additional financial burdens when the greatest effect they’ll have is on marginalized populations who need their Second Amendment rights the most? Again, because of an underlying racism they fail to see is there.

And that racism comes out in two ways: believing only well-off whites own firearms, and ignoring the fact most gun crime in the United States is committed by blacks. And that most gun crime is also committed by people illegally in possession of firearms, and who have zero interest in submitting to any additional laws.

In other words, like most gun control ideas out there, Saul Cornell’s idea of taxing “assault weapons” is racist and punishes the innocent.

Few Americans realize that guns and ammunition are already taxed to pay for conservation efforts. Gun owners have happily tolerated federal taxes for years to support this worthwhile public-policy goal.

A lot of people are completely ignorant about taxation, and Cornell appears to be no exception to this. There are various types of taxes levied against the United States economy.

The tax Cornell is referring to specifically is authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act, officially known as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937. And it’s an excise tax, meaning levied only at manufacture, and paid only by those in the business of manufacturing firearms and ammunition for sale. The funds from the tax are distributed to the States for conservation efforts. Hunting and fishing license fees serve the same purpose.

But Cornell isn’t proposing an excise tax on “assault weapons”. His article seems to be proposing ownership taxes in the same way we have property taxes on houses and vehicles.

Taxation sidesteps entirely the constitutional qualms some have over assault-weapons bans.

The Pittman-Robertson Act is constitutional only in the same way that sales taxes are constitutional. People who buy firearms and ammunition through retailers still pay the required sales taxes at the point of sale unless the purchase is online through an out-of-State retailer – with all applicable laws and regulations observed.

It also addresses the criticism often voiced that singling out assault weapons is irrational because it would leave hunting rifles that have many of the same features on the streets.

Yes it’ll address that criticism, but that isn’t a criticism lobbied against the assault weapon bans. The criticism lobbied is that it goes after a tiny minority in gun violence.

Assault weapons, in general parlance, are typically defined to include a typical, off-the-shelf AR-15. Indeed that, along with the AK variants also commonly-available and owned, seems to be the only firearm in mind when talking about “assault weapons”. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, consistently year-over-year, handguns account for the vast, vast majority of gun violence in the United States. Not rifles or shotguns, but handguns.

Yet no proposal by the gun control advocacy groups addresses this. Why is that? Racism.

Again the majority of gun crimes are committed by blacks, the majority of gun crime victims are also black, and the firearm used in those crimes is almost exclusively handguns. Yet consistently the greatest calls for gun control aren’t about addressing gun crime in the inner cities, but mass shootings that largely affect white kids – the vast majority of mass shooting victims in high-profile mass homicide events (such as Las Vegas) are white.

Moreover, gun bans do not address the problem posed by guns already in private possession. Rather than requiring an expensive buyback program, gun taxation would use a market-based strategy to reduce the number of guns in circulation by effectively raising the price of ownership.

And here we see that he isn’t proposing an additional excise tax, a tax at the point of manufacture. And I can show why he isn’t doing that.

First is the mention of firearms already in private possession. Meaning he’s proposing one of two things: property taxes on already-existing firearms, or additional point-of-sale or excise taxes on ammunition for “assault weapons”.

The latter won’t work, I’m pretty sure he knows it won’t work.

The AR-15 is chambered for one of several rounds: .22LR, .223 Remington, 5.56 NATO, or .300 Blackout. But none of those rounds is unique to the AR-15, and you can find other rifles – and handguns in the case of the .22LR – chambered for those rounds. So attempting to levy an additional excise or point-of-sale tax on those rounds as part of taxing “assault weapons” will end up affecting those who don’t own what is commonly called an “assault weapon”.

And there are carbine rifles that would fit the definition of “assault weapon” that don’t use the common rifle rounds. As an example are carbine rifles chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum, also called the 9mm Luger or just “9mm”. So additional point-of-sale or excise taxes on the 9mm Luger will vastly affect pistol owners more than those who own the carbines.

Nor is this a “market-based strategy”. Taxation doesn’t work with a market, it works against a market. A market-based strategy would be a massive advertising campaign that convinces the millions of people who already own AR-15s to give them up or avoid acquiring more. Taxation circumvents the market in much the same way as an “assault weapon” ban.

Another advantage of using taxation instead of gun bans is that such a policy would provide an opportunity to reward the vast majority of American gun owners who already engage in safe gun practices. Tax policies could offer tax deductions for the purchase of gun safes or for the cost of safety courses. Weapons stored at federally licensed firing ranges or hunting lodges might incur no tax. But if you wanted the convenience of having such a weapon at home, you could be taxed for the privilege.

And now we see the underlying agenda. This isn’t about rewarding gun owners, this is about registration and creating a census on gun owners. By having a line-item deduction on tax forms for “safe gun practices”, this would be the start of a census on who owns guns.

This approach has the additional advantage of shifting the debate away from an argument over rights and moving it where it belongs—toward structuring a set of policies that protects gun owners’ rights and lowers the negative costs that gun ownership imposes on the rest of society.

Protects gun owner’s rights? No, this is about taxing rights in a fashion similar to how the Crown taxed paper, literally taxed paper, with the Stamp Act of 1765. You want a tax as a barrier to the exercise of rights to disincentives lawful citizens from exercising their rights while doing nothing to address those who actually are a problem.

Taxation offers another advantage: It might overcome some of the fear of gun confiscation.

Not even close. That you included tax deductions for “safe gun practices” means you don’t see how that could lead to confiscation. Again the deduction would be the start of creating a census of gun owners. You desperately want direct taxation on gun owners as back-door registration or census taking of gun owners. Don’t even try to say otherwise.

As such, it won’t assuage any fears of confiscation. If anything, it’ll enhance it.

One of the many dysfunctional aspects of our modern gun debate is that we have framed the issue exclusively in terms of rights. Thinking of gun ownership in this way is neither hardwired into our constitutional system nor rooted in founding-era practices.

Actually it very, very much is. Anyone familiar with the history of the militias during the American Revolution knows this. Which means Cornell isn’t familiar with that history.

The first militia act, which required those eligible to serve in the militia to purchase their own firearms, was in essence a tax.

By what definition? And such a law today would not be constitutional since the right to keep and bear arms also includes the right to decide to not keep and bear arms.

The problem was not that Americans did not own firearms—levels of gun ownership in America were much higher than in England—but that most Americans did not want military-style weapons. Such guns were relatively heavy, and not especially suited to shooting the critters that ate their crops or to hunting birds.

Wow, you really need to read on the history of firearms in the United States.

Until the 20th century, the weapons owned and kept by private individuals were much the same weapons, if not the exact same weapons, kept by the military. The only notable exceptions on that mark are field artillery units (e.g. cannons and Gatling guns). Even private merchant vessels had cannons to defend against pirates, with the need for merchant vessels to be armed lessening as piracy lessened.

It was not until the 20th century when there started to be any kind of distinction of “military-style weapons” with the development and increased commonality of full-auto firearms in military combat. The first truly full-auto firearm, known as the Maxim gun, wasn’t developed until 1885, well after the Civil War. The first full-auto rifle was the Cei-Rigotti, introduced in 1900, but never adopted by any military.

The first commercially-successful full-auto firearm was the Browning Automatic Rifle, which saw use in the First World War. Like the Gatling gun, though, the Browning Automatic Rifle and Maxim gun are considered field artillery, not infantry artillery. The Nazis would actually develop the first full-auto infantry rifle.

But throughout the history of the United States, the rifles and muskets commonly used by the military were much the same, if not the exact same, as the rifles and muskets owned by civilians. It wasn’t until the development of fully-automatic weapons that there started to be separation in that.

And that separation applied only to rifles. That separation never applied to pistols.

There is no pistol used by the military that was never in civilian hands. Some pistols were developed first for the military, but they eventually made it to civilian ownership. The two most common pistols in the United States for much of the 20th century are the M1911 (or just “1911”) and the Beretta M9 (called the Beretta 92 in civilian markets). After the introduction of the M1911, the military stopped carrying revolvers. Today Glock reigns as the most commonly-owned civilian and law-enforcement pistol, though it was never adopted by the United States Armed Forces as a sidearm.

And the Second Amendment is the reason for that continued parity between civilian and military arms. The Second Amendment, in a nutshell, basically enshrines the ability for the people to defend themselves. Even if they need to defend themselves against their own government.

Your attempt to rewrite the history of firearms and the Second Amendment is shameful in the kindest terms.

Taxation offers a more flexible set of tools to achieve a goal all Americans seek: lowering the costs of gun violence to Americans.

Taxing rights is not constitutional. And that is what Cornell is seeking to do: tax people who exercise their Second Amendment rights. Again, this is like the South enacting poll taxes to discourage and prevent blacks from exercising the vote.

The problem is Cornell doesn’t really fully spell out what his tax policy would be. What, specifically, would be taxed and how? His article provides a couple implications that he’d want property taxes on firearms and, likely, ammunition, given his statement about taxation being a strategy, not “market-based” as he asserts, “to reduce the number of guns in circulation by effectively raising the price of ownership.”

The only way to reduce the number of firearms already in private possession is to confiscate them. Increasing the price of ammunition won’t do that – people didn’t just sell their firearms during the 2013 ammo scares and shortages following Sandy Hook. And taxation carries with it two tools for enforcement: liens and incarceration. In other words, those who don’t pay the tax could have their firearms seized and/or be incarcerated.

That statement alone means he isn’t proposing an excise tax like the one provided by the Pittman-Robertson Act. He’s proposing property taxes, with the registration to go with it for enforcement of those taxes, and the confiscation and (likely) incarceration that comes with noncompliance. Completely in contradiction to his assertion that taxation would allay fears of confiscation.

This is why I say there is racism underlying any gun control proposal. Any new anti-gun policies are most likely to be enforced against blacks. And the fact gun control proponents refuse to acknowledge that reality is quite telling. Since it shows that they seem to have only white gun owners in mind in making these proposals, since they not only know that whites are more law-abiding, but also more likely to just surrender to the new laws.

While blacks are just going to get locked up.

They’re evolving…

This e-mail caught me a little by surprise this morning as the subject was “Be sure to read this message! Your personal data is threatened!”. At first I thought it was something related to the Equifax data breach. But upon further inspection, I realized it’s another blackmail scam.

Hi, dear user of kennethballard.com

We have installed one RAT software into you device
For this moment your email account is hacked too.
I know your password for this account [REDACTED]: REDACTED

Changed your password? You’re doing great!
But my software recognizes every such action. I’m updating passwords!
I’m always one step ahead….

So… I have downloaded all confidential information from your system and I got some more evidence.
The most interesting moment that I have discovered are videos records where you masturbating.

I posted EternalBlue Exploit modification on porn site, and then you installed my malicious code (trojan) on your operation system.
When you clicked the button Play on porn video, at that moment my trojan was downloaded to your device.
After installation, your front camera shoots video every time you masturbate, in addition, the software is synchronized with the video you choose.

For the moment, the software has harvrested all your contact information from social networks and email addresses.
If you need to erase all of your collected data and video with your enjoy, send me $600 in BTC (crypto currency).

This is my Bitcoin wallet: 16MC7p89x3AX2mZBy5RbyJ5foi8pUc3eEU
You have 48 hours after reading this letter.

After your transaction I will erase all your data.
Otherwise, I will send video with your pranks to all your colleagues, friends and relatives!!!

P.S. I’m asking you – not to answer this letter because the sender’s address is fake, just to keep me incognito.

And henceforth be more careful!
Please visit only secure sites!

So the same “I installed an exploit to a porn site and have video of you… enjoying yourself” blackmail e-mail. Just different text.