Subscribe via RSS Feed

Author Page for Robert Farley

rss feed

Listicles of Late…

[ 22 ] May 26, 2015 |

Screenshot 2015-05-26 12.05.48I’ve been slow on posting some recent listicles.  Five big procurement decisions the US needs to make within the next decade:

These decisions go beyond questions of military necessity; they require a level of national deliberation that has become sorely lacking. The post-Cold War glow, followed by the desperate efforts to piece together victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, have made long-range procurement planning difficult, and have put off big decisions that need to happen as part of a national conversation, rather than a technocratic debate between the Pentagon and the services.

Here are five of the biggest decisions that the Pentagon, and by extension the nation, faces over the course of the next decade.

See also Five Deadliest Israeli Weapons, and Five Deadliest Russian Air Force weapons.

RIP John and Alicia Nash

[ 41 ] May 24, 2015 |

Wow.

John Forbes Nash Jr., the Princeton University mathematician whose life story was the subject of the film “A Beautiful Mind,” and his wife of nearly 60 years died Saturday in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, police said.

Nash was 86. Alicia Nash was 82. The couple lived in Princeton Junction.

The Nashes were in a taxi traveling southbound in the left lane of the New Jersey Turnpike, State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams said. The driver of the Ford Crown Victoria lost control as he tried to pass a Chrysler in the center lane, crashing into a guard rail.

Airpower and the Pivot

[ 4 ] May 24, 2015 |
F-15 wingtip vortices.jpg

“F-15 wingtip vortices”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

At the Diplomat, I talk a bit about the flexibility of airpower in context of the Pacific Pivot:

More broadly, the extent of the campaign indicates that what airpower theorists like to call the “inherent flexibility of airpower” cannot resolve the major resource issues associated with the pivot (or, if you prefer, the rebalance). Implicit in the rebalance is the idea that the United States can still use airpower, and long range naval strike, to solve security problems around the world, even as it focuses the bulk of its efforts on managing China.  If fighting a group as small as ISIS requires a long-term commitment of U.S. power, with attendant demands on allies and infrastructure, then the logic underpinning the pivot begins to unravel.  This is especially the case if the United States cannot escape the political pressures that continue to draw it into Europe and the Middle East.

 

Maybe Time to Just Go With It

[ 8 ] May 23, 2015 |

The mobile site is down again.  Perhaps this is the universe telling us that we just need to embrace reality and make LGM a full-on adult entertainment blog? I know Loomis would be cool with that…

We’re working on it, and looking for permanent fixes.

…looks like we’re back up!

I Am But A Simple Caveman

[ 208 ] May 22, 2015 |
unfrozen_cave_man_lawyerd

Freddie deBoer, totally not upset about something somebody wrote about him on this blog

And Freddie writes 1016 words about how he totally doesn’t care about anything LGM writers say about his work, and he basically just ignores it all, and he would certainly never, ever, in a million years, leave 75 comments at LGM on 26 different posts, 24 of which he hasn’t read, because he’s only ever read but two posts at the blog. And despite the time he complained on his blog that his comments weren’t being posted to our site (as if this was bloody unusual on WordPress) he would really, really like you to know that we just aren’t worth his time. And also, we’re all lame because none of us have been cited approvingly by the National Review.

Freddie would also like you to know that if you’re considering commenting on this post, you’re probably objectively despicable, not to mention “middle age,” “dad jean models,” “tenured,” “sweaty palmed,” “sweaty and cantankerous,” and “neckbeards.” Not that he reads the comments, or ruminates about them at night when no one is there to hear him cry.

If Freddie didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him.

Money For Nothing. Chicks For Free.

[ 80 ] May 22, 2015 |

This calls for a more complete response:

Oh for crying out loud. Loomis, I get and enjoy your belligerent whimsy, but this is just silly. This is the Sarah Palin School of Law definition of freedom of speech.

If you don’t get that what Loomis was doing with this post was 90% belligerent whimsy, then you’ve dreadfully missed the point. The other 10% of what Loomis was doing was a coherent and quite correct argument that Google’s policy was being badly misapplied in this particular case.

Why the fuck are you guys running adsense anyway? You’re making what, 50-100 bucks a month from that? Get rid of the stupid ads (which are irrelevant at best to your readers’ interests, completely contrary to their political and moral beliefs at worst (no, I do not want to purchase a Russian bride or see Newsmax’s “one weird cure for diabetes”), frequently crash or redirect their browsers, and make the site slower. Choosing this as your hill to die on is pretty absurd given that I can’t even load this site half the time with my adblocker off.

Adsense returns about 50% of LGM’s monthly revenue. The estimate in this comment (of Adsense alone) is off by more than an order of magnitude; I don’t feel like opening up the books for the world to see, but Four Krustys either had little understanding of the traffic the site enjoys, or of how that traffic translates into revenue.

Moreover, Adsense (and Sovrn, the other provider you see in the right sidebars) has only rarely been the problem. The recent redirects to gogarden were caused by Sitemeter (now eliminated); the mobile redirects to porn sites have been due to problems with WordPress updates. The slowness of the site is much more often caused by the social media tabs (which clearly remain a problem), than with the ads on the right sidebars.

Bleg for money. We’ll pay. OK? Do a dildos-in-dead-horses-in-American-history series or something. I’ll be the first to donate.

We do. Donations last year (which I considered *extraordinarily* generous) constituted roughly 13% of site revenue. Thus, LGM readers would need to become approximately 7.7 times as generous as they have been in their most generous year on record in order to replace the revenue lost from advertising. It’s possible that we could approach *something* along these lines, if we turned the site into a semi-permanent pledge drive, but to my mind this is considerably more annoying than any problems created by the ads. If an angel donor decided to effectively bankroll the site for a year, we certainly consider reducing advertising, but barring that it’s difficult to replace.

Frankly, if your concern is Google deciding what is appropriate or inappropriate for people to see, why have you *chosen* to be part of that system? The same system that has basically destroyed journalism because sites are just trying to get clicks rather than do actual reporting? Don’t be a part of that. Don’t put your labor towards perpetuating a shitty system. There are a lot of other ad networks, and there are a lot of other ways to make money that don’t piss off your readers and sell out your values.

Right. Most of the other ad networks that can produce revenue as reliably as Google have similar effects on side readability. Most of them (Google Adsense included) place limitations on the extent of advertising allowed, meaning that you need to use more than one in order to generate the revenue you need. And many of them have similar restrictions on content.

It’s also worth pointing out that the internet advertising provision industry, as it were, has a bit of the fly by night to it. LGM has, over its history, lost *thousands* of dollars to vendors who ceased to exist between advertisement and payment. Say what you will about Google, they pay in American dollars, they pay on time, and I have reason to expect that they’ll be around for a while. This doesn’t mean that we give up our right to complain about their most annoying (or poorly applied) policies.

I should also note that LGM turns down most of the ad requests that it receives from vendors. These vendors are normally looking for three things; sponsored posts, pop-up ads, and in-post image ads. We could make a *lot* more money if we embraced a full revenue maximization model and allowed these three kinds of ads, but we decided a long time ago that there were limits to how much readability we’d sacrifice. LGM receives 3-5 requests of this sort every day; most of them go straight into the trash.

BUT WHERE DOES ALL THE MONEY GO? Several places. Our server fees have recently gone up, partially as a response to all of the problems we’ve suffered from hacks and redirects and what nots. The site, like any complex machine, requires maintenance now and again from professionals who like to be paid.

Once a site has been monetized, a variety of complications ensue. We pay taxes to a variety of different Caesars. We pay licensing fees to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and public school fees to Fayette County. We have legal representation (thank you, Goldberg Simpson!), and a Certified Public Accountant (Jesse at Fister, Williams and Oberlander, you’re a hero to me).

But most of all, we pay our writers. Since we’ve had enough money to actually spread it around, Scott and I have been committed to ensuring that everyone who writes for LGM receives some (usually meager) compensation. This includes guest posters. Regular posters receive more, based on an ill-defined formula involving magnitude of recent contribution, and long-term tenure at the site. Part of the reason for compensation is a principled belief that we shouldn’t profit off of people working for free. A bigger part is that everyone who regularly posts at LGM could write, for money, somewhere else. LGM usually can’t compete with the cash that other outlets can offer, but the combination of near-complete editorial freedom, an outstanding commentariat, and beer money is apparently enough to inspire consistently outstanding work.

And the term “writers” really short-changes the work that LGM front-pagers do. The administrative work isn’t evenly distributed, but most of the contributors do their share of behind-the-scenes work necessary to keep the site going. This includes sharing on social media, sharing on listservs, hunting and expunging trolls in the comment section, managing site hacks, keeping the twitter feed and Facebook page updated and functional, responding to e-mail requests, putting together ESPN groups, and a host of other activities too numerous to mention. None of that is easy to see on the site, but would be badly missed if the work wasn’t done.

And since we’re all already here, let’s take this one on, too:

OK, that’s a surprising amount. I still think you could do better. (Or you know, just go whole hog and become a mesothelioma blog)

Yep.  It’s entirely possible that we could do better, and we’re trying to do better all the time.  Unfortunately, none of us have the ability to commit full time to the site in a 40-hour-per-week, professional sense of the term.  This kind of commitment is necessary to fully work out the implications of different ad strategies, and different providers.  In the absence of this sort of commitment, we default to reliable, easy to use advertisers such as Google Adsense.

I’m referring to the Cracker Barrel/Chik fil A/Mozila/etc. definition of censorship. What I’m equating is you saying that a private company making a business decision is a violation of your freedom of speech. You entered into a voluntary contract with Google AdSense. If you want to violate the agreed-upon terms of that contract (even if they’re silly!) and they don’t want to do business with you as a result of that, that’s not a violation of your freedom of speech.

And there is nothing whatsoever in Erik’s post that could even faintly be interpreted as an argument along these lines.  Rather, he’s complaining (in pointed language!) about the silly implementation of the terms of the contract. And once we grasp this, the next three paragraphs of the comment are nonsense.

When you load a page on LGM, over 3MB of bandwidth is used. 2.7MB of that bandwidth is advertising bullshit, add this, twitter widgets, etc. That sucks, especially if you’re on mobile and paying by the MB.

If you’re on a mobile phone, you’re using the mobile site, which demands far less bandwidth. And I think we can all agree that the social media buttons and the twitter feed are categorically different than the advertising that has formed the core of the complaint in these comments.

Blarg

[ 3 ] May 22, 2015 |

Still having trouble with the mobile site.  Once again, I blame Loomis.  Thanks for being patient.

Management

LGM is a Family Blog. Happy Families.

[ 98 ] May 21, 2015 |

And of course, it was Loomis who almost brought LGM down:

Hello,

This is a warning message to alert you that there is action required to bring your AdSense account into compliance with our AdSense program policies. We’ve provided additional details below, along with the actions to be taken on your part.

Affected website: lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com

Example page where violation occurred: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/02/the-chattanooga-vibrator-1904

Action required: Please make changes immediately to your site to follow AdSense program policies.

Current account status: Active

 

Violation explanation

Google ads may not be placed on adult or mature content. This includes fetish content as well as sites that promote, sell or discuss sexual aids. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional
  • sexual aids or enhancement tools such as vibrators, dildos, lubes, sex games, inflatable toys
  • penis and breast enlargement tools

For more information about keeping your content family-safe, please review our program guidelines and these tips from the policy team.

Additionally, you can watch our short animated video & policy refreshers on this topic.

When I first received this e-mail, I thought it was a joke, or spam. Turns out no; our Google Adsense privileges are on the verge of being revoked because of Loomis’ weird fixation with what may be considered unconventional 19th century sexual practices.

Lawyers, Guns and Money is a family blog, but also a blog that caters to people with sexual fixation and/or unconventional sexual practices. I won’t hazard a guess as to how much of our audience falls into each category, but be assured; we need you all. Accordingly, I have posted a screenshot of the original post here, so that you may study it in all of its glory, and consider whether to employ any of the pictured devices as part of either a normal, loving family-oriented sexual relationship, or as part of some weird, unconventional sexual fetish practice. I have also lightly edited the original post to avoid offending any family-friendly readers.

Shame on Loomis. God bless America.

Go! Garden!

[ 14 ] May 20, 2015 |

All,

We are working on the gogarden forwarding problem.  It doesn’t seem related to any malware on the site; rather, appears to be a redirect in error to a site that shouldn’t be receiving as much traffic as it’s receiving.  As always, we thank you for your patience.  If you notice that the redirects are increasing or decreasing in frequency, or have stopped altogether, please note in comments.

Best,

The Management

…upon the advice of commenters, have removed Sitemeter.  Please indicate if you have any additional problems.

Trident Replacement

[ 29 ] May 19, 2015 |
Nuclear Submarine HMS Vanguard Passes HMS Dragon as She Returns to HMNB Clyde, Scotland MOD 45152118.jpg

“Nuclear Submarine HMS Vanguard Passes HMS Dragon as She Returns to HMNB Clyde, Scotland MOD 45152118″ by Photo: CPOA(Phot) Tam McDonald/MOD. Licensed under OGL via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s a terrible idea for the United Kingdom to spend a big portion of its dwindling defense budget on a Trident replacement. The scenarios in which London might need its own nukes in order to reach out and touch someone, or at least get back at someone, are vanishingly few. And replacing the SSBNs that currently prop up waning British prestige keep the Queen safe will make a huge hole in the UKs defense budget for a very long time. From my point of view, one of the few true bright spots in the potential for Scottish secession lies in undermining the remaining arguments for Trident replacement.

Oh, and then there’s this:

If you’ve never seen a missile compartment before you probably have a picture of a glistening high tech piece of equipment in your head. Before Captains rounds or a VIP visit it is pretty glistening but during most of the patrol it’s far from it. Missile Compartment 4 deck turns into a gym. There are people sweating their asses of between the missiles, people rowing between a blanket of s**t because the sewage system is defective, sometimes the s**t sprays onto the fwd starboard missile tubes and there’s also a lot of rubbish stored near the missile tubes. Not an image you would expect of the “most advanced weapon system on the planet”.

There were a few incidents of people in the gym dropping weights near the nuclear weapon’s firing units. I heard one person joke about how he accidentally throw a weight and it nearly hit a missiles firing unit. A person was caught using a Bluetooth speaker to play music on MC 4 deck. The captain found out and a warning issued over Full Main Broadcast (FMB) all personal electronics would be banned if anyone else was caught using Bluetooth in the Missile Compartment.

This is a quote from CB8890 (0430) – With live missiles embarked, the only portable radios authorised for use in the MC / AMS 2 are Cromwell Radios and Fire Fighter helmets with built in communications (FFHBC).

E. Electronic equipment in the MC other than that required for safety and security must not be operating.

Personnel Electronics should be banned yet the policy isn’t enforced. You can bring whatever electronic devices you want onboard: laptops, phones, pads etc. Almost everyone onboard sleeps on a level of the Missile Compartment. They use their own personal electronics right beside the missiles.

Simple rules like no e-cigs and no shaving are also not obeyed. With the ventilation constantly circulating air around the submarine it is possible for the hairs to be picked up and cause short circuits. In the Missile Control Centre a Power Alert Alarm kept appearing and disappearing. A possible cause is something like dust or hair creating a short.

Is the William Daniels Voice Optional?

[ 194 ] May 18, 2015 |
Knight Rider Supercar KITT instrumentation.jpg

“Knight Rider Supercar KITT instrumentation”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Without evaluating the likelihood of the changes described (I think the author gets the impact on manufacturing a bit wrong, even accepting his priors) or the timeline, I’m curious what folks think about the political effects of a transformation in transport.

Most people—experts included—seem to think that the transition to driverless vehicles will come slowly over the coming few decades, and that large hurdles exist for widespread adoption. I believe that this is significant underestimation.

Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced. They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point.

In particular, I’m wondering what a progressive coalition looks like in this world; we simultaneously reach (and indeed, vastly exceed plausible estimate of success) goals in safety, energy use, environmental impact, and urban livability, while also laying waste to vast swaths of the working class. Does a move to autonomous vehicles continue and enhance the urban renaissance, or does it revitalize suburbia by significantly reducing the costs of long-range commuting?

Thoughts?

MIRV-Y!

[ 8 ] May 18, 2015 |

A5200 Missile Command.pngI talk MIRVs at the Diplomat:

Big news hit the front page of the New York Times on Saturday, in the form of a long article on China’s efforts to miniaturize its nuclear arsenal. The article, using the annual Pentagon report on Chinese military capabilities as its primary source, noted that the decision to tackle the technical problems associated with miniaturization suggest (but only suggest) a larger shift in nuclear weapons doctrine. As the Times article notes, China has long had the latent capacity to MIRV its nuclear missiles, a step that the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and the United Kingdom took long ago.

Page 3 of 46712345...102030...Last »