If You Aren’t Already Using a VPN, Time to Start

I mean, everybody wants to make sure their ISPs can sell their data, right?

I was particularly saddened to see Rep. Massie on the list of those voting for this measure. Having worked for him (years ago), he is certainly smart enough to understand the technical implications here, but voted out of the idea that the free market was already doing a good enough job of this (i.e. Comcast won’t sell your data without your permission, for fear that you’ll leave for a competitor).

The problem is that, in great portions of this country, there’s no free market for ISPs. In most locations, it’s a local monopoly. I’m lucky: in my city, we have two cable providers, plus high speed fiber (fios). In the town I grew up in? One cable provider. And then DSL, if you live in the right spot. The house I grew up in? No DSL. No options.

Anyway, use a VPN. Most sites are using HTTPS these days, which is helpful, but your ISP will still know what name you looked up, what IP came back, and how long you were on the site. If you want to be careful, switch to an open DNS provider, and use a VPN. Most DNS providers will also use your data, but they will at least give you the option to opt-out. (As backwards as this sounds, I’d recommend Google Public DNS).[1]

For VPN, both Cloak and TunnelBear are reasonably cheap (probably less than you pay for 1 month of internet) and easy. Or, if you’re so inclined, roll your own.

  1. Google’s DNS privacy is pretty clear—“We don’t correlate or combine information from our temporary or permanent logs with any personal information that you have provided Google for other services.”  ↩

On the Right Side of History

In 2008, I cast my vote to elect the first African-American President. Four years later, I repeated that act.

In 2016, I cast my vote to elect the first female President.

Hillary Clinton isn’t a perfect candidate. There is certainly enough baggage that comes along with the Clintons. Hillary Clinton doesn’t come across as the most sincere candidate when on the stump, or giving a speech. President Obama is a hard act to follow in that regard, but even in comparison to an average candidate, Clinton is mediocre. Hillary Clinton has a tendency to be a politician at a time when people are ready for honesty and transparency, and are sick of “the same old Washington.”

You know what Hillary Clinton also isn’t?

  • A racist
  • A misogynist
  • A bully
  • Against the LBGTQ community
  • A person with zero respect for the intelligence of the American people
  • A person with zero respect for the Electoral process
  • Anti-semitic
  • Completely unqualified to be President

Even if I didn’t respect Hillary Clinton, I would still vote for her over Donald Trump, who is all of those awful things, and more [1].

But I do respect Hillary Clinton. She’s a policy wonk. She seems to really want to make the world a better place, even if I don’t always agree with her views or tactics. She’s well respected in the global community, and across the aisle when her opponents aren’t demagoging.

She’s clearly smart. She’s handled a number of investigations—some warranted, many not—with composure and a desire to keep helping the United States.

No candidate is perfect. But Hillary Clinton is more than good enough to get my vote. She’s deserving of being our first female President.

I’m with her.

  1. This isn’t debatable. It’s well documented. He’s an asshole.  ↩

Trump’s Economic Advisor

At some point in the next day or so, I’ll write up my quick thoughts on this election (i.e. please vote Hillary, don’t vote Trump).

If you need more reason to not trust Trump and the people who are guiding his campaign, this New Yorker article by Adam Davidson should be more than enough:

This is an appealing fantasy for some. But Navarro’s view is not just simplistic, it is wrong and dangerous. There’s no reason to think China would acquiesce to Trump’s threats; doing so would all but guarantee that China would face an unending series of similar threats from America and others. Instead, it would most likely respond with tariffs of its own, shutting down American imports. China already trades more with the European Union than it does with the U.S., and would shift its trading strategy even more decisively away from us. It is hard to find a major American exporter who doesn’t see China as its most promising area of growth. A trade war would shatter General Motors, all of Hollywood, the music industry, Boeing, and the entire state of Washington, which exports more goods to China than any other.

There’s more:

These are just the easily predicted first-order effects of a massive tariff increase on all Chinese imports. There are many terrifying second-order impacts. Trump and Navarro focus on America’s manufacturing-trade deficit. But the global economy has also brought the U.S. a tremendous investment surplus. Foreign governments, companies, and citizens spend much of their savings on U.S. government bonds and the stock of American companies. While this investment has not always led to benign outcomes (the financial crisis of the previous decade was, in part, caused by all that cash from all over the world seeking returns in the U.S.), shutting down global trade would, necessarily, also shut down this investment. Interest rates would skyrocket, and the U.S. would enter a painful recession, possibly a depression.

This is the reason almost all economists are against a Trump presidency. This isn’t elites from their ivory towers; these are the people who understand how global economies work. And very few of them support Trump. What he’s selling, at best, isn’t possible; at worst, it’ll cause massive economic problems in the US.


During an election when one of the most divisive issues is how to help groups that have been left behind by a globalized/information economy, privilege is a topic that comes up frequently. It’s a challenging situation, where (in my slightly naïve view) a group of predominantly white, rural and suburban, lower-middle class people are feeling a lack of support from the government in protecting their traditional jobs and roles in the economy. Whether or not protecting their jobs is the right approach (or whether we should be investing in training/re-training) is up for debate.

What’s I don’t think is up for debate is that this has lead to an uncomfortable schism between that group and other groups who have also been held back in the economy for various reasons (gender, race, economic status, etc). Ironically, as this weekend’s SNL showed, those groups actually have more in common than not.

But things seem to get caught up on the concept of privilege and whether or not certain groups should be getting an “advantage”.

This is a long prelude to what I think is a really great way to describe privilege, from an article by Toria Gibbs and Ian Malpass:

Privilege does not mean you had it easy. It means you had it easier. If a man grows up in poverty, and drags himself out of it, that’s impressive. That’s hard. If he’d been a woman, he’d have had to do all the same things, while also fighting society’s expectations of what women can or should do. Privilege is what you don’t have to deal with.

Two Recent Articles Worth Reading

Two articles I’ve come across recently that are worth reading:

I Spent 5 Years With Some Of Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You. (Mother Jones)

But something else seemed at play. Many blue-collar white men now face the same grim economic fate long endured by blacks. With jobs lost to automation or offshored to China, they have less security, lower wages, reduced benefits, more erratic work, and fewer jobs with full-time hours than before. Having been recruited to cheer on the contraction of government benefits and services—a trend that is particularly pronounced in Louisiana—many are unable to make ends meet without them.

This is one of those counter intuitive issues that neither political party seems ready to solve. How do you convince workers, whose jobs are evaporating due to technology (whether that’s technology replacing a worker, or technology lowering the barriers for others to do that job less expensively), to rely on the government for job training and benefits while transitioning into a new career?

Neither party wants to solve that (and certainly not during an election cycle).

How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media. (NY Mag)

Her first assignment was to go down to the newsstand and fetch him the latest issue of Maxim. When she returned with the magazine, Ailes asked her to stay with him in his office. He flipped through the pages. The woman told the Washington Post that Ailes said, “You look like the women in here. You have great legs. If you sleep with me, you could be a model or a newscaster.” She cut short her internship. (Laterza did not respond to a request for comment.)

This was not even close to the worst offense. Jesus.

Still Think It’s a Level Playing Field?

The Washington Post’s article on the creation of the North Carolina bill intended to disenfranchise minority voters is eye opening for how brazen the attempt was.[1]

“Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” he said, explaining that Republicans, like any political party, want to protect their majority. While GOP lawmakers might have passed the law to suppress some voters, Wrenn said, that does not mean it was racist.

“Look, if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican, they would have kept early voting right where it was,” Wrenn said. “It wasn’t about discriminating against African Americans. They just ended up in the middle of it because they vote Democrat.”


  1. The “rationale” for this law? Voting fraud. Which happens at incredibly low rates, except when done systemically, i.e. through electronic means. None of which would be impacted by this law. There are moments I can see both sides of arguments, even if I don’t agree with them. This is not one of those times. This is detestable.  ↩