Canaries In The Coalmine, Hopefully

A child runs away from the camera at night on a dark suburban street, the only light coming from a single street lamp.
I get that running-in-molasses feeling in my nightmares, but the worst feeling I get in dreams is not being able to read. True story.

Even my dreams are political now. The monsters that I have to run away from through molasses are white supremacists and capitalists. These are the times in which we live, and the social landscape has infused my unconscious mind.

I announced on Facebook that I am leaving Facebook. It is something I’ve contemplated for a while now, but every recent bit of news about how the company is being run is another stone adding to the mental weight of my participation.

This is not a news site, so I won’t give the full rundown, but my misgivings started with the revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Russian meddling in our elections. But there is more recent news. As I read each one, they became another stone in the bucket of my metaphorical soul.

Conservatives cry that there is an anti-conservative bias, which never is visible or documentable, and media outlets will bend to their whines to try to maintain their belief in the media’s “fairness.” The result of this play has been Facebook allowing right-wing institutions “fact-checking” powers that the social media platform never seems to give to left-leaning institutions. 

Parker Molloy has done a lot of work documenting how conservatives and the far-right have run their usual playbook of “working the refs” against social media in general and Facebook in particular. She reported this after we found out that Zuck has been secretly meeting with conservatives. When that was published, Zuck tried to pull the “I listen to both sides” defense. Of course, there is no documentation of Zuck meeting with union workers, trans activists, or Black Lives Matters. Zuck had and has no specific examples of meeting with anyone even center-left. 

More recently, Elizabeth Warren took advantage of the apparent Facebook policy against fact-checking politicians’ or public figures’ speech. She ran an ad on Facebook, stating Zuck endorsed our Cheeto in Chief’s 2020 campaign. Of course, having some dignity and integrity, she immediately debunked their own lie, in the text of the ad itself, making a point about how bizarre Facebook’s policy was.

Facebook immediately pulled the spot despite its public policy.

Zuck’s minions eventually restored the ad after their hypocrisy was exposed, which led to Zuck’s Harvard speech. His thin-skinned reactions to some of the Democratic candidates’ (OK, mainly Elizabeth Warren’s) campaign rhetoric and the threat of regulation, culminated in his stupid “we support free expression, and that means we can’t fact-check political ads” speech at Harvard last week. He gave remarkably fact-free defenses that Facebook could be a social good, using zero examples from within the existence of Facebook, instead focusing on the actions of civil rights activists like—wait for it—Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Hearing his testimony before Congress today, where he stammered incoherent defenses of his phony money scheme were the straw that broke my reluctance-camel’s back. I can’t, in good conscience, continue giving Facebook my eyeballs and attention. I posted today, and I’ll post regularly for the next week, to make sure the algorithm lets every one of my 369 friends and followers know: after Halloween, I will no longer be on Facebook.

I am present and active on several other platforms, not the least of which is this one (hello! thank you for reading this), and I will be sure to list all the ways to follow my antics and interact with me in the cyberspaces. One thing I will be doing is opening up regular comment posts here. Doing that will give all of you, my dear readers, the chance to comment on these posts. Take those opportunities to tell me when and where I’m wrong (which is fantastic; I want to know when I’m wrong, it’s how I learn and grow), and, most importantly, post memes and adorable animal pictures. 

Those posts will go up twice a week (unless they’re incredibly popular.) I’m thinking of one on Wednesday and one on the weekend. I’m working on a comment policy that will let haters, bigots, and authoritarians know they are not welcome here; I’ll post that shortly. What I do hope is that you, yes, you, reading this, will feel safe, respected, and comfortable, especially if you’re in one of the under-represented or oppressed categories of folk, like people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer, or anti-capitalist. This blog is open to you in particular. 

In the meantime, I know many of you have many reasons to remain on Facebook, but if you can cut ties at all, without losing touch with people you love and care about, I strongly encourage you to do so. If Facebook starts bleeding users, perhaps they’ll change course. It’s doubtful because the billionaire bubble is very real, but it’s at least one lever we can use to shift it. 

Something like Facebook or Twitter have the potential to be a net social good, for realsies. How they’re run today, however, ain’t it, chief.

Tell Facebook This Site Is Safe

Facebook, this site is safe to share. I promise. I have done everything I can to demonstrate my site’s safety. Please unblock me.

I can’t easily share links to this blog on Facebook. It’s been an annoyance for years now, and I haven’t been able to find a solution. Honestly, I haven’t even been able to find a reason for why it happens; I can’t even get that far. No reason is given.

Here’s what happens when I try to share a link, any link, to this domain on Facebook: if I try to post, Facebook makes me solve a captcha, telling me that it’s a “Security Check” and that this site “may be unsafe” or violate community guidelines or something. Facebook discourages me from posting it at all. Why? Who knows! The links to “Why am I seeing this?” expands out to say:

Image of a Facebook Security Check: "It looks like this link is unsecure: bamoon.com. To protect your account, we recommend not posting the link. If you want to share it anyway, you'll need to complete this security check. Please enter the code below" and a captcha. "If you think this doesn't go against our Community Standards, let us know."

“This is a standard security test that we use to make sure accounts are authentic.”

It’s especially annoying because I have a page set up for the blog on Facebook, to which posts are auto-shared. Those go through fine, but I get the captcha request even when I try to re-share those Facebook posts! What’s going on?

To pour salt in the wound, Facebook keeps suggesting I add a website to my Page, but when I do:

An error from Facebook after it prompts me to add a website to my Page: "An error occured saving page information, please make sure the information is correct and valid."
“An error occured saving page information” – note the fucking misspelling in the error message.

Security! Protection! Authenticity! These are all alarming thoughts. Facebook never gives me anything specific, anything actionable, I can do to clear my site’s good name, however.

This domain has been in use since at least 2004. I have maintained control of it that entire time. It was and is, registered from Gandi.net, a reputable registrar.

Mail through this account is protected by DKIM, although, to be fair, it may be time for me to register new keys and rotate them.

SSL now protects traffic to and from this site.

There are no unsafe plugins or apps hosted on this domain.

The host (as of a weekend ago), SiteGround, is a recommended host from WordPress.

The domain does not appear on any blacklists that are searchable by MXToolbox.com; it is a safe site according to Google Safe Search.

I’ve verified the domain through Facebook’s Business tools, which has not removed the requirement to solve a captcha to post a link here.

One online suggestion I’ve seen for others with this same problem has been to look at the output of the Facebook Debugger. The only error I get there is about whether or not I have a valid Facebook App ID, but adding one to my site does not remove the captcha requirement.

I’m at my wit’s end trying to prove to Facebook this is a Safe Site. I do get a handful of clicks on my site from Facebook, which, to be honest, is the majority of traffic to it (for now), but would I get more if I wasn’t deemed “unsafe?” How much more?

If anyone out there has any suggestions for what I can do to solve this problem with Facebook, beyond abandoning Facebook as a platform… please feel free to let me know.

Moving Day (For the Blog)

I’m switching hosting providers for the blog. If you can read this, things are fine. If you can’t read this, then it may be temporary.

The new hosting provider said it could take up to 5 business days for the migration.

I’ll un-pin this after the transfer is successful. Thanks for your patience!

A stack of three antique suitcases, weathered and stained, with leather straps.

Pardon my dust

I’m in the process of moving my site to a new host (Site5, as recommended to me by a friend who knows this stuff much better than I do, Steve Libbey) so things may look weird today and tomorrow.

Posts appearing or disappearing, the theme changing and being unreadable, stuff like that.

Bear with me until I get this all sorted out, OK?

In the meantime, you can always find me in other places, too:

Friend of the Blog? Welcome, friend!

Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog. I’ve made it to the 2 week mark, 14 stories in 14 days, and I don’t plan on stopping. In fact, just as I’d hoped, forcing myself to write something daily has helped me unlock my creativity and I’ve got story ideas coming out of my ears.

If you enjoy what I’ve been doing here, there’s a lot of ways you can help out, as a matter of fact. Just visiting here helps, of course! And I’m happy you’re reading my words. In addition, in increasing levels of encouragement and assistance, you could:

  • Follow the blog on WordPress.com
  • Follow the blog via RSS
  • Follow the blog’s Twitter accountmy own personal Twitter account or the blog’s Facebook page.
  • Share links to the blog or any posts you particularly like on any social network you use and love.
  • Comment! Comment on my posts. Tell me you love me (you do love me, right?) or give me pointers or criticism of my posts or whatever you’d like to say. I have the spam filter fairly loose and the commenting policy at this point is “Yes, please!” so if you have anything to say, you can say it here.
  • This might seem like an odd thing, but you can refer me, or even hire me! I’m freelancing, and that means I am always looking for topics for stories, and clients who need things written. Drop me a line by clicking the “Leave me feedback” button or clicking this link. I would love to hear from you!
  • And lastly, if you really like what I’m doing here, and you’d like to encourage me to continue doing it in the nicest and most awesome way possible, there are ways you can contribute to my rent-and-eating fund. I’m freelancing, so any little bit would help. See the button at the bottom of this post, or on my About page, to send a donation of any amount through PayPal.

Regardless, thank you very much for visiting my site, and I hope you stick around! I’ve got far more stories to tell!


PayPal Donate Button

Poke around

I’m leaving this post stickied until the end of the day Friday 27 June. Scroll down for new content.

If you notice broken links, or missing images, or anything wonky, comment below or use the Contact page or otherwise let me know.

I can’t decide if I should clear out all the old posts and repost the ones that are good, or leave all the old content here for people to discover. If you have an opinion either way, share it. I worry about appearing “unprofessional” (whatever that means). On the other hand, it’s fun to go back and see how I’ve changed. For instance, I’d never use a phrase like “stupid boy project” these days because projects aren’t gender-specific.

I know I’ll be changing the format around. I want a sidebar on the left side, and I will be adding search and favorited posts and whatnot. Be prepared for changes.

Hello again (tech reminiscing)

Man, it’s been so long since I’ve had to fiddle around with a blog. A long time ago (late 2004), I just used Blogger to publish to my little Mac mini, which sat in my living room and did all my web hosting, despite it not being technically allowed by Comcast, my internet provider. I got away with it for years. Sometimes, rarely, my home IP address would change and I’d have to update DNS, but mostly it just worked.

In hindsight, it wasn’t all that easy, actually. I had to know about DNS, for example, and I had to configure my home network to allow things like web traffic, and I had to run Apache and PHP on my Mac mini. But once it was up and running, I could write daily, post it where anyone on the ‘net could see it, and get comments.

I had to move off Blogger in 2010 because they removed the option to publish to external web hosts. It seemed like a big deal at the time; I wanted to control as much of my online presence as possible. Then I got distracted by all the various options, after toying with WordPress for a while. My main mental obstacle was being able to move over all my old posts, along with the comments. It was the comments that were the most important part to me. No matter what export tool I used, the comments wouldn’t show up on WordPress. I guess I was using an old version of Blogger that didn’t export cleanly. So I gave up.

I gave up and just started Tweeting, Facebooking, and Tumblring. That worked for short thoughts, and reblogging other people’s fan-art and social justice thoughts, and sometimes I’d miss writing long posts and I’d try it on either Facebook or Tumblr. But that never felt quite right. It wasn’t the same as having my old dedicated blog. And I got out of the habit of posting my own words on a daily (or even more often) basis.

So here I am, trying to write again, and hoping other people will read my words. So many habits I’ve lost, that have atrophied. I know what I want now: I want a blog, with one of the four or five domains I own, nice and simple. I want to be able to repost my own articles, I want to have a clippings file to show prospective editors or agents, I want to be able to (eventually) sell my work, once I have enough to sell. And I want to get feedback, and comments, and to share and have stuff shared with me. 

Having an online presence now seems fragmented; does it make sense to have one site for everything these days? I don’t want to give up Tumblr, I won’t stop tweeting, and I like being able to interact with friends, family and acquaintances on Facebook. But words are my business, so I think I’m going to make this blog my hub, my central place on the internet. I’m not so much planting a flag, as I am reclaiming an old place that holds a lot of memories; as you can see, there are old posts here, going back all the way. The comments, sadly, are gone, at least many of them from the earlier days. 

But we can rebuild it and we can march into the future!

Hello again.

Upcoming changes

Because Blogger is discontinuing the service I use to publish my posts, I’m moving the underlying publishing tool to WordPress, which will give me the same level of control that Blogger is eliminating.

At any rate, the deadline is approaching: May 1st is when I expect to start. I’d love to make the change completely transparent to you, my handful of readers, but you may notice a change in how the site looks at the minimum. I’m taking the opportunity to update the look a bit, although it should still retain whatever tiny bit of branding I’ve established over the years: two column layout, black background with white text, Futura logo, and the Moon somewhere on the page.

There are some features I want to add, too, and hopefully there are WordPress plugins that will enable those features.

At any rate, this is a warning that for the next week or so, I will probably not be posting much, if anything; the more posts I put into Blogger, the more I have to move over and import into WordPress. I’m reducing my workload; need to focus on the back-end stuff.

Feel free to read my Twitter feed if you need your daily (hourly, minute-ly) fix of Brian.

Moving to WordPress

So, the publishing function I use in Blogger is going away. I could continue to use Blogger, I suppose, after the deadline of 1 May 2010, but I’m not happy with a blogging solution that doesn’t let me publish on my own server and have access to the file system. Call me a grognard but that’s what I want, even if I’m not as technical and can’t make use of all of the cool stuff that having this level of access entails.

I’ve been meaning to switch my blogging software to WordPress for a while now; it’s open source and therefore allows me all the more chances to fuck up my blog in ways many and varied. I could customize to my heart’s content, tweaking each little individual feature for hours and hours. Do I want to customize the URLs for my posts? Sure! Do I want to tweak the “theme” and layout? OK! Do I want to add features based on my tags (called “categories” in WordPress)? Fine! And plug-ins galore.

The Blogger deadline, therefore, became my impetus to finally start figuring out WordPress and how to get my blog moved over. Ideally, I’d be able to export all my old posts and comments, and import them into the WordPress software, then republish using WordPress, using my style sheets and layouts and whatnot. Of course, there’s a little bit more to it than that, and in the meantime I’ve had the idea to redesign my blog and make it more standards-compliant, and and and… Of course, what could be a simple task is turning into a giant project with lots of individual pieces, all of which need to be done by me and only me.

And I have a month to do it. Nice.

I barely have the energy to write posts on a regular basis and now I expect myself to step up to all this? Who do I think I am?

I’m an unpublished writer. I’m a happy guy, lately. I’m the guy who loves learning new stuff, that’s who. And I’m the chief content provider, technical support, editor, publisher, research staff, and marketer for this here blog.

Yesterday, I began the process by installing a test version of WordPress on my main machine, the New Sexy Thing that’s no longer new but still sexy (to me), my trusty MacBook Pro. Which entailed installing MySQL and mucking about on the command line, too. And then tried using the “Import” feature of WordPress to simply move my posts over. It seemed too easy to be true, and sure enough, it was. I was using an “old” version of Blogger, one that WordPress didn’t support. I had to export my posts and then import them into a “new” Blogger blog, then import them. Figuring that out took several hours and lots of Google searches and several tries where some, but not all, of the posts would import and then freeze up. Ugh.

Eventually I got all my posts into WordPress. But not the comments. I have no idea how to import only my comments. Even though the help files say that any duplicate posts and comments are ignored if you keep trying, that only seems true for posts, and not comments. I can get about 50 of my comments imported (there are ~1200 total over the 6 years I’ve been blogging), and each subsequent attempt just duplicates those 50. Argh.

It makes me sad to contemplate losing the comments. I still have time. If anyone can help with sorting out the comments from an XML file and figuring out a way to attach them to the correct posts in WordPress, I would be much obliged.

Next steps are to find a theme or customize a theme that looks like Lunar Obverse. That shouldn’t be too hard. Then go through and make sure all the links in the old posts work, add titles to the posts that have no titles, and finally move all this over to my actual, internet-facing web server. No problem, right?

I’d like to find a way to consolidate some of my various social media outlets into one page, like a stream that shows all my Tweets, Flickr pictures, blog posts, Tumblr posts, things like my Runnkeeper updates, etc. That’s down the road, though.

You, the reader, won’t see any changes while I muck around, and I’ll give you a warning before I make the move, but let’s set a soft deadline of 1 May 2010 for all this to happen, OK?

And maybe once the mental pressure to switch is off me, I’ll start blogging again more frequently.

Rewards of blogging

Yesterday was Friday, and Fridays on Twitter are for Follow Friday. And I got a shout out from t.a. barnhart, that also mentioned film critic Roger Ebert. I’m sure t.a. only did that to save space and wasn’t comparing me to Mr. Ebert, but secretly I’m going to pretend that’s exactly why he did that. Well, secretly, and here on my blog.

And then @sjkpdx re-tweeted t.a.’s post, doubling my pride.

Finally, I woke up this morning to find that Athena, of The Bliss Quest, a writer whose posts about herself and her goals and dreams are an inspiration I use in living my life transparently and honestly (and guest-blogger here), tweeted something to me that made me feel very good:

@lunarobverse I’m goin’ running shoe shopping tomorrow!Your Shamrock run and posts have got me inspired!

It was a very good day for me. I’m happy to be a small part of the community online, and am humbled by the people I interact with. I just never know when something I write will reach someone unexpected. I honestly just write for myself, about the things I like and care about and do; I’ve said that I don’t care if millions read what I say, and I am sincere. It’s nice, though, to learn from time to time that others do, in fact, read what I put up here.

Thanks to everyone and anyone who reads this.

Also? Yesterday was the third anniversary of my joining Twitter. What a great present on my Twitterversary!