Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

MIT Peeps: Have you heard what JonMon is up to nowadays?

Monday, May 6th, 2013

This post is mostly for the benefit of my fellow MIT alumni.

Remember Jonathan Monsarrat?

If so, then you may have gotten the same impression of him back at the ‘tute that I did, to wit, that he gave off creep vibes.

Judging from what has been written about him online since then, he’s done other things to reinforce that vibe, but this just about takes the cake… He has recently filed a lawsuit against several people, including Ron Newman whom many of you probably also know, alleging that they defamed him in discussions that took place in various forums on LiveJournal almost three years ago.

The lawsuit is clearly baseless and doomed to fail if it makes it to trial, but it seems likely that JonMon isn’t so much interested in prevailing in court, but rather in scaring people into removing their LiveJournal postings by raising the specter of an expensive legal defense.

Ken White has put up the Popehat signal asking for pro bono legal help defending against this attempt to suppress people’s free speech.

I’ve known Ron online for over two decades. He’s a good guy, and if he ends up needing financial help defending himself against this suit, you bet I’ll be contributing to his legal defense fund.

If there’s anything you can do to help — whether it’s providing pro bono assistance yourself, hooking Ron up with somebody who can provide such assistance, or just kicking in a few bucks to his legal defense fund if one is set up — then I encourage you to do so. And if you’re an MIT alum, make sure to mention it when you help…. It’s important to let people know that JonMon’s conduct is considered neither normative nor acceptable to most of the MIT community.


Astroturf for (or against?) Obama

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

An interesting comment showed up a few hours ago on an earlier blog posting of mine about Barack Obama: “Just wanted to say that I am eployed at a large Pharmaceutical company in Clayton NC and I support Barack Obama with all my heart. I would love for all my friends and colleagues to re-elect Obama in 2012!! I LOVE YOU OBAMA.”

The commenter gave the name “Diane Pearce Votes for Obama Again” and linked to I thought it was slightly weird, but not weird enough to merit further investigation.

Then, three hours later, another comment came in on a different blog posting, this time from “Diane Pearce Loves Barack Obama”: “All I know is that I work at a large Pharmaceutical corporation in Clayton NC and I endroce Barack Obama with all my being. I would love for all my friends and colleagues to re-elect Obama in 2012!! I LOVE YOU OBAMA.”

That exceeded my weirdness threshold, so I looked into it a bit further.

The two comments gave two different email addresses, and, both of which appear to be based on people’s names and neither of which is related to the full name given by the commenter.

One of the comments was posted from an IP address in the United Arab Emirates. The other was posted from Indonesia.

I Googled for pages matching “Diane Pearce” and Obama, and there were 264 matches, many of which were similar comments. I did the same Google search a half hour later, and the count was up to 270.

Someone is clearly astroturfing here. The motives for this, and whether the people doing it are in reality trying to help or hurt Obama, are left as an exercise to the reader.

Diane Pearce Votes for Obama Again

WordPress inadvertent disclosure bug

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

As I previously wrote, I recently had to change my password on over 300 Web sites because my default “medium-security password” was compromised.  The compromise was caused by a bug in the WordPress blogging platform which can result in inadvertent disclosure of information when content is pasted into the WYSIWYG text editor built into WordPress.

In a nutshell, sometimes when you paste text into the editor, the editor inserts an invisible copy of the pasted text.  You won’t see the invisible text at all in the editor; it’s visible in the HTML view, but WordPress users often post without every looking at the HTML view (that is, after all, the whole point of the editor).  Even if you do look at the HTML, you probably won’t notice the hidden text block unless you know to look for it, which most people obviously don’t.  It is not clear whether this invisible copy is inserted in addition to a visible copy of the same text, or whether it’s inserted instead of the visible copy you intended.

Although the text is not visible in the editor, it is in the HTML, which means that when you publish your blog entry, the hidden text goes along with it.  Search engines will happily index it and even show you snippets from it in search results if you search for a keyword that’s found in the hidden text.  Furthermore, syndicators of your blog that strip out HTML style attributes (including, e.g., the feed syndicator at will render the previously invisible text for the world to see.


NYC Fox News ticker reports the story

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Hey, LJ users! A little help?

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Turns out my syndication feed ( has been broken since I installed bookmarkify in March. LJ decided that my entries were too big with all the bookmarkify links in them. So I’ve told bookmarkify to only include the Digg link and none of the others.

It would have been nice if somebody at LJ had mentioned to me that my articles weren’t being fed there.

Now y’all need to go back and read everything I’ve posted since March 17. :-)

Ted Belman and the anti-Obama Smear Machine

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Right-wing pro-Israel blogger Ted Belman has recently embarrassed himself by joining the stampede of conservative Republicans so desperate to keep Senator Barack Obama out of the White House that they’ll say just about anything to scare people out of voting for him.

Make no mistake, Belman and his ilk are scared. The smear tactics which worked so well against John Kerry in 2004 just don’t seem to be working on Obama. So, what’ an ideologue to do? The answer, apparently, is to take a gaggle of absurd accusations against Obama, combine them into a hastily written hodgepodge of rumor and innuendo, and throw them out into the blogosphere in the hope that “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Here’s what the smear-mongers want you to believe:

Read more…

I’m being “syndicated” on Jewneric

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Jewneric logo

I’ve been invited to be a contributor to Jewneric. I’ll be “simulblogging” my Judaism-related articles on my blog here as well as on Jewneric. If one of the articles here piques your interest, you may wish to follow the comments about it on Jewneric as well as here. I’ll post cross-links at the ends of siimulblogged articles.

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Take a look at It’s a new site which I’d describe as an “enlightened” version of www.f* One major difference is that people are encouraged to post about not only companies where bad things are happening, but also about companies where things are going well. Furthermore, there’s a clever community moderation system which keeps track of how much “cred” users have and gives individual users more or less influence over the content of the site based on their cred. It looks like a rather clever concept, and if it achieves enough critical mass that it’s possible to learn something about a company or even a specific manager before going to work for it/him/her, I think it’ll be quite successful.

If you register on the site through the link, you’ll get a free 60-day “gold” membership.

LiveJournal and comments

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

OK, so one of my friends syndicated my blog to as “jik_blog” shortly after I started the blog. Thanks, Elka Tovah!

Alas, shortly after she did this, I discovered that LiveJournal has a rather annoying deficiency in its syndication mechanism…. Comments on syndicated feeds go into LiveJournal, not into the original feed. This is somewhat annoying. I want comments on my articles to go into my blog, not into LiveJournal. Also, I’d rather see comments stick around for a while, and LiveJournal expires syndicated feed articles after a couple of weeks.

What’s odd about this is that my RSS feed specifies with each article the correct comments link. There’s no reason why LiveJournal couldn’t post that comments link for each article, instead of or at least in addition to its own, but it doesn’t.

I’m not the first person to stumble over and be annoyed by this problem. Fortunately, at least one of the other people who encountered it came up with a solution I could easily implement for myself. In this article, Michael Hanscom described modifying the RSS template for his blog to add a paragraph to all content syndicated to LiveJournal asking people to comment on his original blog rather than on the syndicated copy of it. Thanks, Michael!

I implemented his most excellent suggestion and went one step further. The paragraph I’m now adding to my blog articles when they are syndicated into LiveJournal is customized to give the correct comments link for each article.

Perhaps eventually the LiveJournal folks will handle this better, but in the meantime, I’ve got a reasonable workaround.