Have I mentioned how much I have come to personally dislike Bernie Sanders?

This is not a matter of his stated political positions, many of which I agree with on a general level. I just dislike him as a human being…

Originally shared by Shava Nerad

David Sirota’s war against media critical thinking

Bernie, Beto, and the Streisand Effect

If there’s anything I despise more than an attack on the electorate from foreign influence, from right wing media, from corporate mainstream media, it’s a left media figure using everything we know about propaganda and media criticism, distortion and influence, to punch left.

David Sirota was Bernie Sanders’ first office lead in the 90s, when Vermont sent Bernie to DC to mess with Speaker Newt Gingrich’s head. It was David’s first big break in DC from the looks of his VC, and I’m sure that the relationship means a lot.

Right up to New Hampshire, I was pretty gleeful about Sanders’ run. I was really troubled when he hired Tad Devine and displaced his Vermont staff. I defended Bernie with teeth bared when his staff lifted the Clinton campaign annotated voter file (yes, in the modern way of blurring social engineering and hacking, you can call that hacking) and the DNC threatened — quite justifiably — to shut their asses down.

Later I ended up regretting it as the campaign grew more and more anti-community. I imagined another Dean campaign — bottom up, participatory, integrated with the party to the point of taking over the counties, breathing a via positiva of lifeblood into the progressives — to use an abused term? Hope.

What we got was Bernie Bros that presaged politics, and a level of hostility and lack of civic and political understanding of how political insurgencies work in a two party system that was crippling, all around.

Well, oops, it’s happening again.

This time, instead of Tad, we’ve got David Sirota as our snake in the garden, the designated whisperer of insinuations to drip poison into ears and divide.

He’s fun. Let me take this apart for you. I’m going to write this up as a reference for fellow journalists. It’s going to be tl;dr, long, opinionated but well documented, and I’m going to add to it over the course of days.


Who the hell is Beto O’Rourke?

I’d heard the name. There’s even some lunatic with Mass plates on my street here in Cambridge who has a Beto bumper sticker. Early adopter, I guess.

But as I’ve written here I’m not favoring anyone at this point in 2020. It’s too early.

Still, the first week in December, I saw retweets of Sirota “exposing” Beto for various insinuated sins against progressive politics. The major charges have been that he has:

o – voted “with the GOP” 167 times.

o – accepted at least one maxed out donation from a CEO of an oil/gas corporation

Now, I’m going to go through and take these apart in depth with full footnotes, but this preamble is just to explain why this rang such an off note with me.

Voting “with the GOP” means you are not voting party line Democrat. There are lots of reasons for this. One of the most common in recent years is that you live in a rural state. Yo? This is part of how we got the Cheeto.

Plus, Politico has reported that Sanders votes with the Dems about 95% of the time. He has been in office a very long time. I don’t have a full tally, but David has included procedural votes in his 167 that Beto’s joined the evil pachyderms. How many hundreds or thousands more votes has our independent from Vermont registered since the 90s?

David illustrated Beto’s receiving “oil money” from the CEO of a small business in Texas. Right SIC code, $2700 donation. Instructed people to decide what they thought of it — after framing that we can’t afford more money in politics supporting global warming that is going to kill us all. Nice.

Remember, this stuff pretty much starts with Stalin, and he was a lefty. We’ve all studied him.

The example he uses is a guy who is a long time Democratic donor, the widower of a Human Rights Campaign activist. The two men were married in the Unitarian Universalist church. Now he’s raising two kids as a single dad.

I honestly doubt he was buying Beto’s vote for big oil.

Beto’s a Texas politician. Over 375,000 people in Texas fall directly under the oil/gas SIC code, and more — likely millions — in the many industries that support and profit from the extraction and refining.

What is Bernie afraid of?

I’m not the only one — probably not even the only one who didn’t know crap about Beto — for whom David Sirota is managing to bring a spotlight to the Texan and shade to the Vermonter with his tactics.

Streisand Effect

Netflix Review: “Memories of the Alhambra”

Just finished Episode 6 of the new Korean language Netflix series “Memories of the Alhambra”, and now I have to wait a week for the next one. At this point there are only a few possible explanations: 1) the protagonist is actually crazy; 2) magic; 3) alien super science; 4) deal with the devil; 5) the writers are so caught up in the story that they simply don’t care about reality. I favor the later at this point — I’m so caught up in the story that I don’t care, either. 🙂


Originally shared by Darrin C

There’s currently an organized bot effort to discourage people from voting. Among their “arguments” is that voting machines are all “rigged”.


I’m one of the computer scientists who discovered these voting system problems. And I vote, because it matters. So should you.

How I set up a hubzilla hub on Digital Ocean.

Motivation: Hubzilla is the most interesting of the possible G+ alternatives I’ve looked at so far. Its most important feature, from my perspective, is that your identity isn’t tied to a particular hub. Identity portability is built in. You can move your activity to any hubzilla hub — one you run yourself, or one run by a mega-corp. You can run your own hub and participate fully in the network.

But hubzilla is new and perhaps a bit hard to grasp — new terms, new concepts. I decided to set up a hub.

Requirements: Some proficiency in linux system administration at the command line. Financial committment of ~ $100/year. Time committment of ~ 8-24 hours to set up, and then ongoing time TBD. Some expertise in using Google…

0) You need a domain name for your hub (eg: “nymclub.net“). In my case I had registered the name long ago at godaddy.com.

1) Set up a DO account (at https://www.digitalocean.com/) and create a droplet. A minimal droplet costs $5/month. Select ubuntu 18.04 as the OS.

The name of the droplet on creation should be the domain name above (eg: “nymclub.net“), and not the name they provide by default. Secure your droplet by following the excellent clear instructions at


[In general, DO has really great tutorials.]

[Note: I don’t work for DO, but I am a satisfied customer.]

The droplet will have an IP address that it will keep as long as it is alive.  Note it.

2) Set up DNS using the above IP address. You can use DO servers, following the documentation at:


In my case I have my own DNS servers, so I used them.

Be sure you can log into your droplet remotely, by name, not IP address.

3) Install the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, Mysql, PHP):


(There is also a DO “one click application” that gives you a server with a LAMP stack. I don’t know anything about it, other than it exists.)

Note: I used the MariaDB, a free plug in replacement for MySql, with

$ sudo apt install mariadb-server

if I recall correctly. It may be the default already.

Verify that you can see the apache start page from your browser.

4) Hubzilla requires a mail server that can send mail to confirm accounts. I just installed postfix as an “internet server”:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install postfix

[I think this will take further work on my part — I got it to the point where it could send the confirmation emails, and didn’t do any more email configuration. Email is, in general, a pain.]

I also installed an email client so I could send test messages:

$ sudo apt install mutt

5) Hubzilla also highly recommends using SSL/TLS for your web server. I used the “Let’s Encrypt” certificate authority, and “certbot”. See

https://certbot.eff.org/lets-encrypt/ubuntubionic-apache for information.

https://nymclub.net worked first try.

6) Install hubzilla. The instructions at

https://project.hubzilla.org/help/en/admin/administrator_guide are perhaps too concise, but they are complete. I followed them slavishly. Google will reveal several other tutorials:


doesn’t include TLS, and uses an apache virtual host.



Might not be a bad idea to read through them.

Once you have unpacked the software you can access the site and use the software itself to guide you through the installation. Specifically, I used the recommended “git clone” to get hubzilla in the default root directory of the web site, /var/www/html, then browsed to https://nymclub.net. The web site at this point shows the status of the installation — what is missing and what needs to be configured. At the command line, then, I manually installed the needed requirements — php-zip, mbstring, php-xml, and several others were needed. Sometimes it took a bit of head-scratching to figure out the correct package name to install. You can use “dpkg -S” to find that out – eg:

$ sudo dpkg -S php-zip

You may also need to edit the /etc/php/7.2/apache2/php.ini file to be sure that all the indicated packages have been enabled, change upload limits, and so on.

Important: in order to get changes in the php configuration to be reflected in the web page you must first RESTART THE WEB SERVER:

$ sudo service apache2 restart

Took me a while to remember that…

Be sure you have changed “AllowOverride None” to “AllowOverride All” in the necessary places in the /etc/apache2/apache2.conf file:

Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride All
Require all granted

Set up the database and the database user as described in the documentation.

After all this you should have an installation.

Finally, you need to create the first user, using the same email address that you provided during installation. This user is the administrator.

7) Now it is “administration” of hubzilla, not “installation.” I’m learning this at the moment, so just a couple of quick notes.

Initially, the navigation bar at the top of the page is pretty empty. In the upper right of the “Channel Home” page is “New Member Links”. A “Missing Features?” group is at the bottom of the list, with “Install more apps” and “Pin apps…”.

“Install more apps”: click on this link to get a list of apps to install.

“Pin apps to navigation bar”: Click on that link, and you will see a bunch of apps, along with a pushpin icon. Click the icon, and the app will appear in the nav bar. (Requires a reload).

I think you need apps to do much of anything, so the above two steps are pretty important.

Anyway, for ~$100/year you can have an awesome social network with complete control over your own data. Not a bad deal.

Well, I have a hubzilla instance running on a Digital Ocean droplet

Well, I have a hubzilla instance running on a Digital Ocean droplet — https://nymclub.net. It’s a minimal virtual server with limited storage, but so far it is working quite well — a couple of small glitches, but so far I am impressed.

Installation is a bit complex — hubzilla itself is really pretty straightforward to install, but the infrastructure: a virtual host, a domain name with function dns, a web server with a LAMP stack, a let’s encrypt certificate, email — a bunch of fiddly details that need to be set up. I haven’t done this stuff for a while, and there were small snags that I wouldn’t have hit in my younger days…

Fun exploring the lesser-known social media platforms.

I must admit that I am having a great time exploring the lesser-known social media platforms. I think maybe I’ve signed up for more than I can possibly keep up with, but maybe that’s an illusory problem — I already keep dozens of tabs open and I’ve survived that. To paraphrase Dylan: “Tabs will arrive, tabs will disapear..”

Of course, people who live on their phones may not have that luxury, but I surf mainly from my desktop.