Category Archives:

15 Years of Blogging

Hard to believe that I started blogging on this day in 2003, fifteen years ago.

I had imagined when I started that I’d be writing mostly about the ideas that animate my scholarly work. On the whole, that didn’t work out for me; the level of detail and precision I strive for in academic writing either didn’t translate well to blogging, or just took too darn long and got in the way of ‘real’ work. Instead, the blog became an outlet for legal musings — academic outtakes, if you will — and personal political screeds that ramped up as the nature of the Bush administration torture scandal came into view. Eventually it also became a form of political action for various causes, and an info portal on local elections, especially judicial ones. (Next up: the proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments.)

At one point I was getting thousands of visitors, sometimes in a single day.

But then, one day I decided I wanted to spend more time writing, so I dialed back. I decided I was first an academic, and only very much second or third a blogger, and I wanted to stay that way. I no longer wasted any time on publicity, and stopped making an effort to have at least one post a day. Traffic slumped. As projects like Jotwell and We Robot took more time, blogging languished further. And two rather serious health crises, one in 2010 and one that only resolved itself recently in this past year, brought blogging to temporary, but lengthy, near-halts.

Anyone still reading here is a die-hard, and I thank you. Drop a note in the comments below, or in Who Reads

There have been 20,316 genuine comments here in 15 years, and I am grateful for all but the trolliest. On the other hand, Askimet reports it has blocked 3,243,190 spam comments, and that doesn’t count the enormous number I deleted manually before installing Askimet. Even ignoring those, that means only 0.6% of comments here have been real? Fortunately, nowadays very little of the spam gets through the filters, so neither I nor anyone else ever sees it. It’s just a work tax on the server.

My first post introducing the blog wasn’t much.

My second post discussed the origins of a paper I co-authored with my wife, Caroline Bradley, on ‘Virtual Worlds and Real Rules’; I think the paper is still timely and relevant.

My third post could also have gone up last week: I wondered why the dollar was so strong, and bemoaned how hard it is for the individual investor to do currency hedges in an economically sensible way. (It also had what I think was my first comment spam.) Still true, although right now I don’t have a strong desire to hedge the dollar since I would not know what currency to buy instead; the US has problems, but so do most other major industrial nations.

But my fourth post, Rose Burawoy, Political Scientist, the one about my grandmother, well that one both has — and has not — withstood the test of time, and the ways it has not are dispiriting. The torture issue has not gone away: our current Supreme Court nominee could not bring himself to say waterboarding (or worse) is torture. Nor has the federal government been cured of its use of Gestapo tactics: refugee families ripped apart, children in cages, border Hispanics systematically having their citizenship questioned. Local governments are in on it too: the doctrine of qualfied immunity protecting police for a wide range of violent or indefensible actions, Blacks gunned down by police for what far too frequently seems no reason, consent decrees on local policing abandoned by the feds leaving bad departments free to continue to act wrongly, civil forfeitures even in the absence of criminal convictions back in fashion after it looked as if they might be on the way out.

I still don’t think the Nazis will take over America. But they are much more in evidence than I thought possible 15 years ago. We’ve seen them on the streets of Charlottesville, and the President thought that was just fine and dandy, which is hardly surprising since he employs Nazi sympathizers if not outright Nazis. ICE’s Border Patrol employs more than 40,000 officers and agents; their political and social views sound bad, so far they do not show many signs of becoming tomorrow’s Brown Shirts. Then again, who would have thought we would see the Nation’s chief official sympathizing with Nazis in the streets?

Democracy responds slowly to evil, but it often responds. Or, as Dr. King put it, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

It’s not too late. Yet. That is my story, and so far I’m sticking to it.

Posted in | 4 Comments

Faster, Not Yet Better

In an effort to avoid thinking about hurricanes, I have cut the load time of this blog by more than 50%.

I could cut it a lot more if I jettisoned the reader map in the right margin, which seems to take a long time to load. But I like the map, even if it reminds me how much traffic is down from the many thousands per month when I was taking blogging more seriously. Second slowest item is probably the trump countdown clock, which I’ve been thinking of cutting anyway. It has two problems: First, it puts the word “Trump” at the top of every page. Second, it’s almost always slow due, I suspect, to the page cache. Besides, I’m not enjoying looking at it: the numbers are too big.

Posted in | 2 Comments

Personal Notes

Recently I’ve been posting pretty much nothing but videos. There two reasons. First, to the limited extent I’ve had spare time, I’ve been spending it reading political news with more horror than inspiration. Second, there hasn’t been much spare time: I just sent in a revised first draft of an article that will in due course be published by the Arizona Law Review. Meanwhile I also did a first draft of a conference proposal on some AI issues to send to a co-author. And, last week I discovered that the other conference proposal, on a privacy issue, that I thought was due at the end of this week turns out to be in fact a call for finished papers. Fortunately, I’d already started, but getting to the finish line is taking most of my time at present and seems likely to do so through the coming weekend. After that, another large privacy-related project looms in the distance. Meanwhile, of course, Jotwell is humming along. We recently started a new Contracts section.

I just had to turn down an invitation to speak on AI and robotics in Hong Kong next month because I couldn’t find enough times for all the makeup classes on such short notice. That hurt, as I’d have loved to go. But if you were maybe thinking of asking me to come talk about the exciting things I’m working on, some of which I’ll blog about when they are a little more baked, please be aware I’m on writing leave next semester, and I will have much more flexibility than usual–and, I hope, more work product too.

Posted in, Personal, Writings | Comments Off on Personal Notes

New Certificate for

In the unlikely event you care, be aware that I have just installed a new digital certificate for


If your browser popped up a warning about the site’s cert changing, this is the reason. If it didn’t, well that just shows you how far we have to go in getting security to work well online.

The cert is issued by Let’s Encrypt, and replaces one I had to pay for.

Posted in Cryptography, | Comments Off on New Certificate for

Mysteries of Twitter

Something is duplicating my blog posts on Twitter. Or rather, two somethings.

Doubtlessly, they are both things I set up myself some time long in the past, set and forgot. Now I have to reverse engineer it to figure out what they are.

The one that makes nicer posts is Twitterfeed. I want to keep that one and kill the other one. But I not sure what the other one is. Presumably it should show up in the — shockingly long — list of Twitter Apps I’ve enabled, which is how I cottoned on to Twitterfeed. Perhaps the other is WordPress’s native twitter feed which I hope I’ve disabled.

This post will tell.

(Of course the real mystery of Twitter is how I ended up on the list of Top 50 Law Professors to Follow on Twitter, when almost all my Tweets come from this blog…. Oh well, I’m near the bottom, maybe I’ll fall off next year.)

Posted in | Comments Off on Mysteries of Twitter

Sorry About the Snow

No, I don’t mean the climatic conditions you may be experiencing while I endure temperatures of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit (24C-30C) at mid-day here.

I mean the symbolic stuff that fell on the blog today.

It seems that the Jetpack plugin I use has a snow setting and that something turned it on. The story of how I turned it off is a cautionary tale of a little knowledge being dangerous. Ignore the rest if tech talk bores you.

First thing I did was look at the code being served up by the blog. And sure enough, there was a call to a “holiday-snow” module in Jetpack. I turned to Google, which on what turned out to be a careless reading told me I should see a control in the Jetpack configuration settings. So I went to the (very extensive) Jetpack control menu and looked for a snow toggle. No luck.

Worrying it might be a hack I logged into the blog’s server and confirmed that there was in fact a jetpack module of that name sitting deep inside the code dropped in by jetpack.

Since I vaguely remembered running snow on purpose some time in the past, I started to worry that maybe I had hand-coded the call to the snow module. This is a bad practice, one I abandoned long ago for the much cleaner and safer method of using child themes, but maybe it was so long ago…? But, no, all the grepping I tried found no hard-coded calls to the holiday snow routine.

So after wasting a lot of time on this, I went back to Google. There I found that Jetpack works differently on wordpress-hosted blogs (the snow toggle is where you would expect it), and on self-hosted blogs like mine. In those cases, the plugin adds a snow toggle into the Settings > General menu of WordPress, completely separate from the Jetpack > Settings menu where all of its other options reside. I think that’s sort of sneaky, and uncalled for, but if I’d read the instructions I found the first time a little more carefully, I’d have saved half an hour or more.

Posted in | 1 Comment