For about the past six months, I haven’t been very active in the Libertarian Party. I’ve decided to continue that trend.

I don’t feel as if I have a political home. I know there was some major upheaval at the LP National Convention – the pledge was kept, but much of the platform was gutted – that was largely a victory for the “moderates” or “reformers” in the party, at the expense of the “purists.” (I used quotes because I don’t know who is using which terms.) I think that larger schism in the party is between anarchists and minarchists, and has been for a while. The convention may have been a victory for the minarchists, but the anarchists seem to be more galvanized for action.

Sigh I’m not an anarchist. I don’t plan on being an anarchist. I don’t want to be involved in any anarchist movement. And right now, despite what happened in Portland, it seems that the LP is infused with anarhists, which pretty much puts me out to the curb.

Maybe it always has been that way. Maybe I’m just suddenly more aware of it.

Whenever I do start getting political again, I’ll probably do it in a way that doesn’t involve organized political parties. I still believe strongly in the libertarian movement and philosophy, but I just can’t keep stomaching the anarchist element of it.

This upsets me quite a bit, believe it or not. Why? Because a few years ago (2002?) I made a pledge that I would always run for political office as a Libertarian if there was an opportunity to do so. I had said that my candidacy would most likely be symbolic, but I would at least provide the opportunity for citizens to vote against the Incumbent Party.

In 2005, I ran for Mayor of Raleigh, even though that was a non-partisan race, so my pledge was not binding.

In 2006, however, there is no recognized Libertarain Party in North Carolina, thanks to the incumbents’ draconian and self-interested ballot access laws. I couldn’t run as a Libertarian this year even if I wanted to.

(Yay for democracy. Don’t believe their “get out the vote” empty double-speak. That’s code for, “Please legitimize our control over you.”)

Anyway, what if the state did deign to recognize the Party as worthy to be voted for? Would I run for office? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure what the Party is right now.

Perhaps the LP should split in two – The Anarchist Party (which seems a big contradiction) and The Minarchist Party. I’d join the Minarchist Party.

In fact, as I Google™ while writing this post, I find that I’m not the only with this idea. Someone else has registered Looks like that guy is also an Objectivist. Man, I just can’t win.

I stopped off at the grocery store on the way home from work Friday evening to pick up a few things. I was almost done. Milk: check; beer: check; etc. The last thing on my list was chips. I love chips and salsa, especially with beer (see previous ‘check’).

I grabbed the bag of tortilla chips, turned my cart around to head to the checkout, and there was a guy with another cart coming up behind me. We were right next to one of those damned stack o’ groceries displays in the middle of the aisle, creating a choke point. For a brief moment, we were facing each other as we both maneuvered around the display. During that time, we briefly established eye contact.

Normally, at times like this, perfect strangers will offer a bland “Hi” or “Hello,” or a generic smile. In case of two men, like this one, I was expecting the ever-popular short head nod: Men’s body language for “wassup, dude?” I was prepared for any of these.

But no. That’s not what I get.

In that split second of eye-contact between two perfect strangers in the middle of the chip aisle in a grocery store, he says to me, “Do you believe in Jesus?”

And me, being pathetically honest, respond immediately with, “Um, not really.”

Luckily, the movement of the carts were such that I could get around him now and keep heading for the checkout. Which was good, because I was suddenly terrified that dozens of people were going to leap out from the shelves and start handing me pamphlets and inviting me to their Sunday service.

I did catch the stunned look on his face. I don’t think he was expecting someone to deny Jesus in the chip aisle. In his experience, most other chip eaters must believe in Jesus.

As I hurried down the aisle, he called out from behind me, “Why would you say that?”

And I, trying not to sound anything like I truly in my heart, really wanted to be Saved, but couldn’t admit it to myself, replied with my most non-comittal: “It’s just not my thing, man.” I made it out of the aisle alive and pamplet-free.

Thankfully, he didn’t engage in pursuit. I checked out fine and made it to my car without further solicitation.

Afterwards, I had to wonder: Why did he ask me that? Was I exuding some non-Christian aura that only Christians can see?

I have an evolve fish on my car, but if he had seen the car and followed me into the store, he should have caught up with me well before that. Or: I had a case of beer in my cart, and some people don’t think that’s very Christian.

Or does he just ask every random person that crosses his path? Is that an acceptable greeting or introduction in some circles?

I dunno. I’ve just never been asked that question so directly by a complete stranger before.

I’ve had many people hope that their good lord will bless me or tell me that their savior loves me. In those cases, I am a gracious recipient of their blessings, because I know it is an act of kindness on their part. I don’t really believe what they say, but I appreciate their sentiment.

People sometimes say those things with a measure of pity in their voice. They seem sad because they are convinced I’m going to burn in their hell. That’s okay, too, I suppose. At least I’ve gotten used to that.

But having a stranger ask me on the chip aisle if I believe in Jesus was a first. It was just so completely out of context. Surreal. Maybe next time I’ll get crackers. That’s on a different aisle.

Manager-types like to look at things from a “high level.” Instead of worrying about the crucial details of a project, they prefer to be a bit further off, so they can see issues from multple angles, and how those issues relate to each other.

I don’t have anything against this. But some managers can be very literal about how “high up” they are when looking at the problem.

I’ve been in meetings (and meetings, and meetings…) where a given manager of the current project will mention how high up he is when looking at the issue, saying something like, “If we look at this at the 5,000-foot level, we can see….” They usually lift their arm above their head, away from their body, and hold their hand flat, indicating how high up they were when they last looked at the issue.

Now, if one manager was looking at the problem from just 5,000 feet, wouldn’t a better manager want to look at the problem from say, 10,000 feet? That way, they could get the “really broad view” they needed to really “get their head around the problem.”

Apparently, yes.

I have personally witnessed metaphorical height-view inflation over the course of several years working for the same company, as various managers compete to view the issue from the highest possible vantage point. For some reason, it became a little private joke of mine. I paid attention, watching the numbers go up over time. How high could it go?

I’ve seen the progression:

  • 5,000 feet

  • 10,000 feet

  • 50,000 feet

  • 10 miles

  • 100 miles

  • 10,000 miles

  • 50,000 miles

  • 100,000 miles

  • 500,000 miles

The last one is what prompted me to write this post.

In a meeting with about seven or eight people, when I heard the manager say she wanted to look at the problem from the 500,000-mile view (and this manager held both hands above her head for emphasis!), I involuntarily blurted out, “That’s almost twice the distance from the Earth to the Moon. What could you see from that far away?”

There was no reaction at all. Just dead silence in the entire room for a couple beats. Then she dropped her hands and continued on. “Anyway, if we could just….”

This was one of my Dilbert moments.

I took a vacatation on Thursday to go to a special charity screening of Serenity. My wife was coordinating the activities of the Raleigh venue, so I was gone from early afternoon till late in the evening. Right before bed, I figured I’d check my email – and I found that I’d gotten dozens of emails about The Software Wars Map in my inbox.

Dozens of emails? Had I suddenly gotten a lot of traffic?

Oh, yeah.

Google Analytics hadn’t updated with new information since early Thursday morning. :-/ I did a bloglines search and found that I’d been slashdotted! Cool beans, I thought. I didn’t know how much traffic I’d gotten, but I got some emails about it.

It wasn’t until early afternoon on Friday that Google Analytic updated with current stats.


Until late May, my site only got about 50 hits per day. Then I got a sudden burst of traffic from StumbleUpon. For a couple days, I was getting about 4k hits, was linked to from a number of other sites (Meneame was a big referer), and then the traffic started to slowly peter off, down to about 800 hits per day.

Then, at about 5pm Eastern on 6/22, The Software Wars Map made it to the front page of Slashdot. I got slashdotted. That day I got over 35k page views. The next day, 6/23, I got over 60k page views!

I’m glad so many people like the Map.

A few interesting things:

  • The Software Wars Map is popular internationally. Over two-thirds of the traffic from the past couple days has been from outside the U.S.

  • Russians love the Sofware Wars Map. I’m getting lots of referers from *.ru domains, and visitors from Russia alone are accounting for roughly 15% of my traffic.

  • 30% of the incoming traffic is coming in without refering information. To me, this means people are clicking on links via email clients (I am getting measurable traffic from and that don’t send referers, or a number of people have referers disabled in their browser.

  • Slashot has a great multiplier or echo effect. On Saturday, I had referers from 859 different sites, many of them refering hundreds or even thousands of hits of their own.

  • Now, almost two days after the slashdot post, I’m still getting over 500 hits per hour, and the line seems to be getting more horizontal, but only 8% of my traffic today has been from slashdot. 29% is coming directly or without refering information, and roughly a third of my traffic is coming hundreds of sites with only a couple referers each.

How much is this costing me?

My site is hosted with NearlyFreeSpeech.Net and I’m a big fan of their service. It doesn’t look like the slashdotting had any affect on my sites availability. NSFN offers their service purely on a metered basis – no monthly packages. They charge $1 per 1GB of bandwidth. That’s it.

Here’s my bandwith usage over the past few days, as of 10 am on 6/24:

  • 2006-06-24 – 434,883,800

  • 2006-06-23 – 5,564,038,647

  • 2006-06-22 – 2,188,222,647

  • 2006-06-21 – 120,476,225

So this whole slashdotting will end up costing me roughly $10, exactly like they said in their FAQ. They rock.

Back to the email

Like I said, I got lots of email about Software Wars. I got lots of feedback. Almost all positive. And, of course, lots and lots of suggestions. I’ll post more about that later.

I’ve gotten dozens of emails over the past couple days about The Software Wars Map – all of it positive. Many people had suggestions, some had criticisms of a sort, but it was all positive – except for one, single message. I’ve included it below.

I’m going to pull out the suggestions from the other emails and put them in another post for further discussion, but here’s the zinger:

Subject: And people wonder why Linux freaks are laughed at…
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 18:28:29 -0400
Good going, your fanboism really shines thru.

You are missing a few things:

From left to right.

XP completely and utterly annihilated MacOSX. By almost 10 to 1.

Exchange isn’t threatened by anything. Especially not OpenExchange or Ximian. Something like 120 to 1 in Microsoft’s advantage

Linux currently owns less desktops than even MacOS X. No stalled attack there. Simple annihilation.

KOffice? Don’t make me laugh, even OpenOffice does better than KOffice.

MySQL versus MS SQL 2005? Are you serious?

IIS vs. Apache? IIS is far more complete and doesn’t need all those extras Apache needs to keep up. When was the last IIS flaw?

Outlook being stalemated by T-Bird??? People actually USE tbird?

MS IE, replaced soon by MS IE 7.0. and it still controls more than 90% of the browser market. That’s not being turned away.

I won’t even get into Sun, who had its collective butt saved by Microsoft’s “donation”.

SGI? laugh OpenGL? DirectX is better, more powerful and more features ets. Even iD uses it now.

HP? You mean Microsoft’s largest reseller? HP UX versus XP? You really have no clue about either product line do you?

I doubt you will reply. Most of you loonies don’t, or simply comment it was a joke.

“Freak” ? Depends on who you ask.

“Loony” ? Nah.

“Fanboy” ? Probably.

When surfing on the Web, I’m a little paranoid, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s surprising and a bit scary to know just how much data web sites can collect about a person, just from tracking their casual surfing habits. I’ve taken a few steps to protect my privacy, security and safety while online. Why provide more information to marketers and data analysts than you have to? Why take the chance that this information might fall into the hands of hackers and thieves? I’ve compiled some steps I’ve taken to keep my web surfing as safe and private as possible. The article is Safe And Secure Surfing With Firefox over on my main site.

I put up my Software Wars Map way back in January, and it pretty much just sat there. In late May, for some reason, I suddenly started getting a several thousand hits per day from StumbleUpon, which is pretty amazing considering my site previously was getting only about 30-50 hits per day, mainly to my SkillMarket page. I don’t know how or why it happened.

That surge in hits was some kind of catalyst. Over the past few days, the traffic from StumbleUpon is tapering off, but I’m slowly getting more traffic coming in from various blogs – many of them international (mainly from various Asian countries). The map has been submitted several times to Digg, but even though it got a positive comment or two each time, it never got dugg to the front page.

Yesterday, the Software Wars Map was featured as the top story on Linux Watch, and I started getting traffic from them, which I find personally gratifying.

On a fluke, I did a search on BlogSearch, Technorati and Bloglines and found that many bloggers are posting copies of the images on their own site. The image is freely distributable, and having more copies out there saves me bandwidth costs, so I’m glad it’s getting spread around.

I’m very appreciative of all the positive feedback the Map has gotten, both to me personally through email, and on the various forums and blogs I looked at over the past couple days.

Of course, special thanks to Li-Cheng Tai who did the original Software Wars Map back in 1998-2003.

I had subscribed to the feeds of both Media Matters and News Busters for a while. These sites purported to document mainstream media bias, from a conservative or liberal angle, respectively. I’ve dropped them both. Why? At the very least, they cancel each other out. But recent posts on each site illustrated the impossibility of “impartially” tracking the bias of the media. I found a particularly clarifying example.

First, what are these sites:

Media Matters (Liberals watchdogging the conservative media)

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501©(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. (source) [emphasis mine]

News Busters (Conservatives watchdogging the liberal media)
NewsBusters [is] a project of the Media Research Center, the leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias. The mission of the Media Research Center is to bring balance to the news media. (source and source) [emphasis mine]

I’m neither “liberal” nor “conservative,” but I do have a healthy distrust of the MSM for a number of reasons. (Have you seen the MSM fairly and accurately cover any Libertarian campaigns or events recently?) Following these sites seemed natural to me. But I’m now convinced that Media Matters and News Busters are seeing what they want to see, whether it’s there or not.

Whether or not the MSM does in fact have a bias is not the issue. The issue is that Media Matters and News Busters are both completely incapable of determining whether such a bias does or does not exist – because they have their own bias on the matter. They can not accurately and impartially observe any bias in the MSM because their own bias clouds their judgement.

Each site will routinely post a dozen or more stories each day, “documenting” various examples of liberal or conservative bias of the MSM. This naturally begs the question – how can both sites have such a wealth of examples to draw from? If one is right, then by definition the other is wrong.

However, they can both be wrong.

The example that made this perfectly clear happened a few days ago, on May 22. As it happened, each site made a post, only minutes apart, where the target was the same person – Chris Matthews.

Yes, on the same day and at the same time, Media Matters cited Chris Matthews for having a conservative bias, and New Busters cited him for having a liberal bias.

Media Matters on Mon, May 22, 2006 at 7:31pm EST:

News Busters on Mon, May 22, 2006 at 7:34pm EST:

I had each of the stories in different tabs in my browser for a few minutes, switching back and forth, reading the comments, marveling at the beautiful irony of the timing. This example discredits both sites entirely, as well as discredits the notion of the MSM having an obvious liberal or conservative bias.

I do give Media Matter a bit more credit over News Busters in general. Media Matters had always been much more thorough in documenting the “examples” and they generally let the examples speak for themselves. News Busters had a lot more commentary like, “This is the profoundly negative view of America harbored by Matthews. One suspects it is a view shared by many in the MSM and the Democratic party.”

I have unsubscribed from both feeds and am no longer wasting my time on their sites.

One thing is obvious, however. The MSM does have an anti-Libertarian bias. Perhaps I should start a web site to document all the instances of the MSM’s anti-Libertarian bias.

It doesn’t mean what you think it means, but it sure is fun to say.

All together now:



Let’s use it in a sentence:
ButFirstification can be explicitly disabled.

SOURCE: Acme::ButFirst

One more time: