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Down One Drive

Well, the fresh spring heat killed one of the drives on this server, so now we’re running on the spare. I’m debating if I order an SSD to replace the system drive whether I really need to do mirroring anymore? Like anything, SSDs can fail too, but is it an improbable enough event to justify the cost of a second disk and the write overhead of mirroring? But then again, if I had relied on a single disk before, we’d be offline until Amazon could get me another disk.

I have generally not bothered to mirror system drives if they are on SSD, believing they are reliable enough to use alone for non-write intensive applications. Or at least no less reliable than the other components in the server that you don’t have redundancy for. Fortunately, Linux has TRIM support for RAID1, so at least now I have the option. But should I bother?

The Reaction

Almost immediately upon hearing the news about Bob Owens, I knew three things were certain:

  1. There would be conspiracy theorists on our side who would suggest foul play.
  2. Some anti-gun folks would exhibit some truly vile behavior.
  3. Some pro-gun folks would exhibit some truly vile behavior.

But I’m happy to say, for the most part, people on both sides are being thoroughly decent, and so far it’s just a small, loud contingent being pricks. Even though CSGV published something about it, and some of their folks had vile reactions, the most highly rated post on their Facebook page exhibited decency:

My sympathy goes out to his family. Male suicide by gun is very common after the age of 45 for men. Power doesn’t come from guns, it comes from being connected to our emotions and accepting feelings like sorrow, depression, fear. Lots of older men need healing.

I’ll forgive the straw man embedded there. It is discouraging to have been going at this so long that the reaction was as predicable as day and night. But it is good to see that outside the usual suspects, people are still able to remain decent human beings.

Horrible News

I met Bob Owens at an industry event, and usually saw him at the NRA Annual Meeting and exchanged pleasantries. I knew him, but not well. I was an admirer of his work as an amateur blogger, and also when he became a professional gun writer. I had no idea the demons he must have wrestled with. It seems like not many other people did either. Bob always seemed a jovial, outgoing person to me.

This is absolutely tragic, and a great loss to the community. It’s even more so to his family: he leaves behind a wife and two daughters, 10 and 17. I have to be honest, that’s very hard for me to understand and accept. I am fortunate that whatever demons I wrestle with have never driven me to thoughts of suicide. But I know that’s not the same for everyone.

If you’re out there struggling with life to that degree: please seek help. Talk with your friends and family. Even a stranger is better than the alternative. I have a standing order with my family that if for some reason I ever start getting squirrely, they should remove the firearms. There’s no shame in getting help and making arrangements to protect yourself and loved ones.

Someone has set up a Gofundme for his wife and kids. I will be donating. If you were a fan of Bob’s work, I think helping out his family is the least we can do.

Hard to Believe It’s Been a Decade

Without really thinking about it, our 10 year blogoversary came and went. This blog has been sputtering along since January 6th, 2007. A decade of blogging is a lot for anyone, and I am getting tired. At some point, I probably will stop, but I’m not there yet. Obviously my posting frequency has dropped a good bit, but I’m not ready to completely throw in the towel.

A lot of that is really more lack of time than lack of interest. How many of you feel like you’re working harder today than you were a decade ago? A lot, I suspect. Maybe it’s easier when we’re younger. I was 32 when I started what was then Snowflakes In Hell, and didn’t fit the stereotypes of gun owners: the middle-aged fat white guy. A decade later at 42, I look a lot more like the stereotype than I really care to.

When I think back to what the blogging community was like in 2007 versus what blogging is all about today, it’s a night and day difference. When I started, you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a new blog. Now bloggers who don’t blog for a living are almost extinct. The traditional blog look and feel has given away to the E-zine model (is e-zine even a word anymore?). If you’re not a Google News source, you might as well not exist.

When I started this blog, Facebook had only been open to non-college students for a few months. Twitter also had only been launched a few months before, and no one had really heard of it. Social Media was not a thing, and blogging was a place people went to share and discuss ideas. It was a means to route around the traditional media. Back then, it was even a way to keep the issue ahead of the NRA, who in the days before they had any real social media presence, was usually late to the debates of the day. Today is about as likely I find out about breaking news from NRA’s online presence as I do other sources.

It’s been a hell of a journey. I never would have imagined the people I would get to know through blogging. I hope, over the last decade, I’ve had some kind of positive impact on this issue. I’d like to think what I’ve done here has mattered. As we enter our second decade of publication, I still can’t believe there are people who stop by on a regular basis to read the reams shit that go through my brain and out my fingers! For those that do, a hearty thank you.

Death of a Blogging Legend

Steven Den Beste has died. If you weren’t a reader on the very early blogosphere, you may have never heard of him. But for me this is more evidence that the best years of blogging are behind us. Ace at Ace of Spades notes:

I should say that Den Beste belonged to a pre-professional blogging age (such as it may well be), a novice/hobbyist phase, when writers would just write about whatever interested them at that moment, whether it “fit the format” or whatever. Rather like I’ve heard FM radio was when it first came out, as opposed to heavily-programmed/demographically-targeted AM.)

Most of the blogs I still read regularly are the few remaining pre-professional blogs. Instapundit may have rolled into the PJ Media universe, but it’s still largely unchanged in style and format from what it was in the early aughts. There’s very few other blogs still going from those early years. The past decade feels like it’s been a great endarkenment on that front. Most of the commercial venues are vacuous. There are no big ideas. It’s “ra-ra team,” “look at how stupid and wrong those other people are!”, “Gather round the fire and let me tell you what you want to hear.” There’s no more conversation about big ideas, and places to go to read about things no one else is talking about.

I am among a dying breed of bloggers. I don’t do this for a living, and I barely make any money through ads. Most importantly, I don’t care that I don’t, because this was never about money: it was just an outlet. Den Beste’s death feels to me like yet another nail in the coffin of the hobby blog.

The perils of going it alone

Commenter Patrick suggests that using “commercial” social media platforms leaves the user subject to being censored by the platform owner, and that to be more free one should use blogs and RSS.

The problem with this is amply illustrated by the recent (temporary) takedown of Brian Krebs’ self-hosted blog. His analysis is here. At least with a commercial hosting solution, you’re at the mercy of one, somewhat predictable, potential censor. One that can be named and shamed, or even sued for breach of contract if necessary. If you go it alone, you’re a lot more vulnerable to attack.

It’s all very well and good to say “well, this shouldn’t be possible.” But when you get down into the nitty gritty, it gets a lot more complex. And the easiest (and therefore cheapest) way for your upstream provider to protect their own interests is to cut you off. Facebook, Twitter, and Google can afford to pay for world-class DDoS protection. And, in fact, their “normal” traffic would look like a DDoS attack to Sebastian’s self-hosted solution.

There is no perfect solution, no magic bullet. But the reason people have gravitated towards Facebook and Twitter (and the rest) is because it makes a lot of the problems of running an internet presence Somebody Else’s Problem.

So Long Twitter

After reading that Instapundit got suspended by Twitter, I’ve decided I’m done with it. I was angry that they censored Milo Yianopolous, but the fact is that Milo is a provocateur, so he runs the fine line. Glenn Reynolds is no Milo. Twitter is run by censoring fascists, and while I agree it’s their sandbox, I sure as hell don’t have to play in it.

I’m removing the Twitter platform from the blog’s social media, and I will no longer be posting on it. You can still find us on Facebook (for now). This post will be the last that will be posted to Twitter. We are done with it. If you value free speech and free expression, you should think about being done with it too.

Decentralized response to decentralized threat

In comments to an article by Megan McArdle (the article itself is interesting):

It’s basically peer-to-peer terrorism. And that makes it nearly impossible to fight, because there is no military headquarters to bomb, just like there is no single server to take down in a p2p network.

They’ve basically crowdsourced terrorism.

So we need peer-to-peer defense.”

I can’t think of anything to add to that.

FireClean Sues Its Critics

It looks as if Andrew Tuohy of the Vuurwapen Blog is being sued in federal court by the folks at FireClean. I’ve read over their lengthy federal complaint. A good bit of it is their ridiculous patent covering vegetable oil mixes. Generally speaking, the deck is stacked against plaintiffs in these kinds of cases. I believe corporations are considered public figures in these kinds of suits, which means they have to prove actual malice, which means they have to prove Mr. Tuohy knew his statements were false or that he recklessly disregarded the truth. That’s why you see accusations in their complaint like “Tuohy published this disparaging statement knowing it was false, or with reckless or negligent disregard for the truth.” This is a tall mountain to climb for FireClean.

But regardless of that, getting a suit dismissed, or prevailing in a jury trial requires hiring a lawyer, and given the amount of scientific data at play here, I wouldn’t imagine that’s going to be easy or cheap. There is no federal anti-SLAPP law, though there was one introduced in the House last year.

As for me, I keep it old school when it comes to lubes, so I wouldn’t buy FireClean anyway, but I definitely wouldn’t buy it after this. The other thing I believe FireClean may find out is that discovery is a bitch. The Vuurwapen Blog is raising money for it’s legal defense. I’d be sure to contribute. If FireClean wins this suit, the blogosphere’s free speech rights and our ability to criticize products without fear is going to be dangerously compromised.

Did Twitter Help Destroy the Small Blog?

Gun news is short today, so I’m going to link to an article over at Instapundit talking about whether Twitter helped destroy the conservative ecosystem. I’m not so sure. I started blogging in 2007, before Twitter was really a thing, and I noticed trouble for the ecosystem before Twitter started getting really popular.

If I had to point out two factors that killed the small blog, it was two things. The first is the disappearance of reliable and timely inbound link tracking like pingbacks. Google can do this, but it’s not as good as what used to be out there. So it’s harder today to tell when a blog is linking to you, in order to keep a conversation among a community going.

The second factor that killed off the small blog was the arrival of commercial blogging. It’s hard for hobbyists to compete against people who are getting paid, and most of those commercial operations came with competent and well-executed SEO strategies that sucked all the Google love out of the room for people who did not have the time or inclination to compete.

I’ve never noticed that Twitter is all that consequential traffic wise for blogs. Maybe other people have different experiences. While my largest referrers are still other blogs, Facebook has been licking the heels of other blogs for a while in terms of where my traffic comes from. A lot of conservative bloggers are abandoning Twitter, and just using it to push links, since Twitter has chosen to take sides in political debates and ban or stifle opposing thought. I never honestly embraced Twitter all that much, except for very brief periods of time. I’d be pleased if the platform went away. It’s tough say anything intelligent in 140 characters or less, so I’m not surprised it tends to appeal to the worst kinds of people.

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