Browsing the archives for the Meta category.


Books, Meta

We have added an Amazon "store" link  to our front page, very attractively designed, I must say. This does not mean we'll be selling Popehat t-shirts, mitres, panties, or the like, though that day may come. What it allows us to do is provide recommendations on products, so far limited to books and sporting goods, to readers who may be interested in such things and who would like to support our site.

The books added so far are an eclectic lot, reflecting reading material discussed (and endorsed) on our front page, on Twitter, or our Facebook page through the years. And did I mention sporting goods?

We do receive a portion of the price of any sales generated through the site, but the buyer pays nothing extra. All funds received go to defraying out-of-pocket costs for running the site. Any funds received in excess of our out-of-pocket costs will be donated to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or to some similarly worthy charity.

As always, we thank our readers for their generous support.

And did I mention sporting goods? If only 100,000 of you will buy sporting goods through our store, we can all retire from our day jobs, to fulfill our proper purpose of providing entertainment for you, our valued readers.

Or at least insulting you, as (and if) you deserve.


The Road To Popehat: Questions With No Answers Edition


It's time for the Road to Popehat: the feature in which we check our traffic logs to see what searches brought you here, and then think that maybe reality TV isn't so unreal after all.

This time: searchers used the following inquiries to reach Popehat in the month of November.


do you get pepper sprayed or tazed to become a criminal psychologist

explain the reasons why there is absence of oxygen haemonculus using an example of an insect

Which drag queen is going to be at climax in Modesto?

law suits threaten me?

how does voluntary work in situations where a person commits a voluntary act with involuntary consequences (such as drunk driving?

can i be sued for publicly calling someone an asshole?

how to write a blackmail letter that your lawyer suggested

does rhetoric have reductive consequences?

what feelings does this speech evoke in readers? a. hostility and anger c. sadness and sympathy b. neutrality and objectivity d. cool restraint

when will comcast sounds of seasons play christmas music?

Consequencies of using candle, finger or any object to satisfy ones urge?

how do we called lowyer?

I think only about 10% of these people found what they were looking for.


Speaking At The Liberty Forum In February


I've accepted an invitation to speak at the Liberty Forum in New Hampshire in February 2014. The Liberty Forum is hosted by the Free State Project, which seeks to persuade libertarian-minded citizens to move to New Hampshire to pursue more limited governments.

Here's the talk I am giving:

Online Censorship By Lawfare: How Thin-Skinned People Abuse The Legal System To Shut You Up, And What You Can Do About It

The internet gives us unprecedented power to talk about things that are important to us. Our audience is limited only by the persuasiveness of our message and our creativity in spreading it. But some of our neighbors don’t like being criticized online. Across America, everyone from rich corporations to isolated and deranged individuals are taking advantage of a flawed legal system to shut down online speech they don’t like. Regardless of the merits of their cases, unprincipled people can and will sue you to shut you up, and their suits cost time and money. What can you do about it? Ken White is a First Amendment litigator and a blogger at, where he uses the “Popehat Signal” to help beleaguered bloggers find pro bono defense against defamation suits. He’ll explain the flaws in our legal system that allow this abuse, and describe what you can do to protect yourself and make speech more free in America.

I'm also participating in a panel on criminal justice issues.

We all know that the correct response to law enforcement in consensual encounters is "Am I being detained?" and "Am I free to go?" but what happens if you get arrested? What should you expect to happen if you end up going to court? This panel not only examines procedural aspects of the justice system but also deals with how to deescalate law enforcement encounters to avoid arrest and court.

I'm looking forward to meeting fellow speakers I admire like Trevor Timm and Clark Neily, among others. I'm also interested in hearing ideas that challenge me, and trying to challenge others. The Free State Project, and some of the speakers at the event, have views I don't share; I have views they don't share. But I think we all share — or should share — core beliefs about freedom of expression and the dangers of overly powerful and unaccountable law enforcement, and I look forward to exploring those topics. It's a good thing for people from different backgrounds with different views to converge on core values.

I'd enjoy meeting any Popehat readers who are there.

[Early in the new year I've also been invited to give a talk about sexual harassment prevention at a secular event, in case you think this engagement makes me too easy to predict.]


Glitch in the matrix

Traffic during the past 48 hours

Traffic during the past 48 hours

After 4 hours, the server came back to life. The ISP's customer service representative sent a note to explain that (a) they could not find a problem and didn't know what we were on about, and (b) they fixed it and were glad to help.


Hold that thought…


Simple comment bookmarking!

Thanks to lurker (and friend of the 'hat) Tony H. for providing a handy Javascript utility that allows readers of the site to mark their place among the comments and resume reading at that juncture. Tony rolled it for his own use, but was kind enough to share.

In the lower-right corner of each comment, you'll see a pushpin icon. If you click it, the browser will silently set a cookie remembering your place. Next time you visit that page of comments, look for the corresponding pushpin right at the top of the Comments section. Click it, and you'll scroll right down to the comment you previously marked (if it's on the present page).

That should allow you to pay attention to more weighty matters, such as correcting whoever's wrong on the internet!


A Policy Under Consideration


I'm seriously considering banning or pasting anyone who shows up in the comments to say "I like Popehat author X but I hate Popehat author Y," or "I wish I could read Popehat author Q without reading Popehat author Z," or words to that effect. Patrick already decided to ban anyone who warns us not to harm our brand, a perfectly sound policy.

I suspect this approach would not deprive us of any audience participation of significant value.

Feel free to comment. Please don't let me being in a pasting mood deter you.


Journal of the Great Shutdown, Day Six

Fun, Meta, Politics & Current Events

Clark is still missing. We're worried, but haven't given up hope. Yet.

Pray with us, for Clark's sake.

Bub 2


Journal of the Great Shutdown, Day Five

Fun, Meta, Politics & Current Events

We haven't heard back from Clark.

Seal Clubber


I have altered the blog


Pray that I alter it further.

In the meantime, be sure to express your opinion in the comment field enhancement post.

I have implemented the following features for now:

  • A preview pane that appears below the comment field as you type and shows you how your comment will appear after you submit it.
  • A 5-minute timeout allowing you to edit your comment in case the preview pane betrays you.
  • New HTML tags, including <table> and <tr> and <td> and <ul> and <li>.
  • Clearer explanatory text below the comment field.
  • Top Commenters by Volume (as measured in decibels) in the sidebar.

Best way to enhance comment writing: a poll


This poll is about the interface for adding a comment to a post. (It is not about comment threading. We'll deal with that separately.)

This poll is closed!
Poll activity:
start_date 02/10/2013 12:30:00
end_date 31/10/2013 12:30:00

Poll Results:

Which is preferable if we cannot have both?



Spam Attack Immediately Follows Post on Brett Kimberlin


When people argue for robust "report spam" and "report abuse" tools on social media, I always have a reservation: those tools are inevitably abused by unprincipled people who want to silence speech they don't like.

Twitter is no different. The report function on Twitter is routinely abused in an effort to attack political opponents.1

In a mildly creative twist, some abusers flood opponents with huge numbers of spam followers. Then they report the opponent to Twitter. See, buying followers is a breach of terms of service, and flooding someone with spam followers makes it appear they have bought followers. If you want to protect yourself from this, the best way is to make your account private — which achieves the abuser's goal by reducing your audience.

Today Popehat's twitter account got hit with about 20,000 spam followers in the course of a couple of hours. That attack followed, by about an hour, my posting the Popehat Signal seeking help for bloggers sued by Brett Kimberlin. Some of the bloggers sued by Brett Kimberlin have also been attacked by surges of spam followers.

But I'm sure all that is just a coincidence.

Twitter makes this extremely difficult to deal with, because it is laborious to block spam followers one by one, and because Twitter forces you to contact support via form, and yet there is no suitable form for this situation.


Just Tinkerin' And Thinkin'




Eventually we'll offer shirts and stuff. When we do, we'll set it up so that any proceeds that would otherwise go to us will go to charity.

Ideas and suggestions are welcome.


The Road To Popehat: What's Wrong With Us Edition


It's time for the Road to Popehat, the feature in which we check out the site traffic software, see what Google searches brought you here, and ask ourselves what the hell have I been writing to attract these people?

The answer, apparently, is some pretty disturbing stuff.

is rabbits emostiomal: American schools are back in session I see.

What important information would you include in a memo to your supervising attorney about methods to avoid the consequences of piecing the corporate veil? Meanwhile, law students' summer associate positions are nearly concluded. This person may have been being paid as much as $3,000 per week to Google questions like that. Isn't the legal system swell?

what will happen if execs of blood go into brain: You know, I really wouldn't worry about it.

Make an ad campaign of a deodorant with a nerdy man who is insecure with siblings and shy with girls. DO IT, GOOGLE! DO IT NOW! Why won't this damn thing work?

toes on my right foot stuck and I can't move them individually: I'm really sorry, but I just looked that up on WebMD and it says you have cancer.

how can you make men angry? That question is a step in the right direction.

what happens if uterus is a bully: Are you the same person asking about making men angry? Are you quite well?

wil a phonebook leave marks on the human body: Always happy to have our friends in law enforcement visit.

what are the odds of choking to dea: Uh-oh.

are there any blogs like Popehat in Canada: As if.


A Week In The Life of the Road to Popehat


It's time for the Road to Popehat, the feature in which we check out our traffic logs, see what searches brought you here, and think to ourselves "this serves the people at the NSA right."

The following searches brought people here during the last seven days:

mother in law unmannered: My mother-in-law has lovely manners. She even laughed politely the time she gave my toddler son an empty plastic Jack Daniels bottle to play with and I referred to it as a "Tennessee rattle."

somewhere sometime someone: This is the sort of thing I see after one of my partners tells me "yes, I did a Google search, but nothing relevant came up. Can't you help me?"

what threats are harmful to my personal brand: Threats to MURDER YOUR BRAND are serious and should be reported to appropriate authorities.

Debbie Sclussel is insane: Well doy.

nipples of a wrestler: People tried to tell Peter Greenaway that the sequel was a bad idea, but he just wouldn't listen.

jews behind gay agenda: I see the National Organization for Marriage has a new strategist.

what to do when I want to watch a fat kid: Brought to you by the American Tourism Bureau.

do girls like boys who are weird and cowardly: "Do they? Because that would be really great if they did, thanks."

ken+white+so+angry: Meh.


Journalistic/Blogger Ethics Question


I'd like input from journalists and bloggers.

Here's a hypothetical. You're a blogger and you write about a person who has been thrust into the spotlight — they are mildly internet-infamous. That person emails you and asks if they can talk to you off the record. You agree. They make a series of statements to you about the litigation that is the subject of your post. Some months later, that person's lawyer files a motion in court with a representation contradicting something that the person told you off the record.

So: either the person lied to you during the off-the-record communication, or the person's lawyers are lying to the court.

Does the ethical obligation to keep the communication off the record continue?

I don't think a single lie on a single subject vitiates the off-the-record agreement as to the whole communication. However, as I have said before, I am troubled by the prospect that a journalist can be bound by a promise to a tipster when it appears that tipster is lying to a court.

What do you think?

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