Daily Archives: January 13, 2015

Metapost: The Augean Stable of my comments section

One of my li'll buddies.

One of my li’ll buddies.

Writing this blog is rewarding on many levels. But with a steady and significant readership comes a great deal of unwanted attention from the numerous Spambots that litter the digital landscape like K-cups in that viral video. I get a few comments a day from actual readers, and dozens of fake “comments” from the Spamisphere.

All include links that I wouldn’t dare click, even if encased in the Internet equivalent of a Hazmat suit. They purport to offer discount merchandise and other stuff; all I do is spend about twenty minutes a day hitting “Delete.” (I could dump them all en masse, but sometimes an actual comment finds its way into the Spam folder and I try to rescue it.)

The only entertaining part of this little daily annoyance? The fractured Spamlish that is these bots’ native tongue. And here are a few examples.

The vast majority of the Spamments include a single generic sentence:

Nice Blog, thanks for sharing this kind of information.

But the real gems are the faux compliments, designed to stroke the ego of the really stupid blogger. Here’s one, from “Cheat Spider Man”:

Hello my friend! I wish to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all important infos. I’d like to see extra posts like this .

Thanks for the kind words, Cheat. (May I call you “Cheat”?) I always try to “include approximately all important infos.” Now, from “Miglior Mutuo a Tasso Fisso”:

A material are usually masterwork. you have done an excellent pastime with this subject matter!

Well, Mooch, I’m glad you think my excellent pastime are usually masterwork, but your tenuous grasp of the language makes me doubt the utility of your praise. So let’s turn to “Gerd Diet”:

Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am inspired!
Extremely helpful info specifically the last section 🙂 I maintain such information much.

Good to know. I hope my readers maintain my information much. As for Spambot “Blair,” I’m near the top of its list:

I thijnk that is onee of the such a lot vital info for me. And i am satisfied reading yur article.

Thanks so much. I appreciate your awareness that I try to provide such a lot vital info. Now, here’s a first-time visitor, “Best Dating Sites”:

What’s up to every body, it’s my first pay a visit of this weblog; this webpage contains amazing and genuinely fine stuff designed for readers.

Yes, my words strung together in sentences are indeed “designed for readers.” Apparently “Best Dating Sites” is a true fan of theVPO because it has left several messages in recent days:

Good response in return of this issue with genuine arguments and explaining everything about that.

I think the admin of this web page is in fact working hard in favor of his web page, because here every stuff is quality based data.

And finally:

What i do not understood is in reality how you are not actually a lot more smartly-appreciated than you may be right now. You’re very intelligent. …Your individual stuffs great. All the time take care of it up!

I couldn’t agree more. I, too, don’t understood how I am not actually a lot more smartly-appreciated. But rest assured, I shall all the time take care of it up.

Don’t expect the Vermont Workers’ Center to go away anytime soon

Those dirty hippies who made Joe Benning walk the gauntlet on Inauguration Day are most likely in this for the long haul. I say this because the Vermont Workers’ Center is a rapidly-growing organization with surprising financial muscle.

According to the nonprofit’s most recent IRS filing, VWC had revenue of nearly $680,000 in the year 2013. VWC head James Haslam told VTDigger’s Morgan True that this year, the figure will be around $800,000. As recently as 2009, its intake was less than $200,000; you do the math.

That’s pocket change in Koch World, but in Vermont it makes VWC a power to be reckoned with, beyond its ability to draw a crowd to the Statehouse.

Aside from money, it’s also tapped into a deep vein of dissatisfaction with/alienation from politics as usual. Its members are committed enough to turn out large numbers for a demonstration or flood the Statehouse hallways when needed. They are also willing to financially commit: VWC charges membership dues, and pulls in about 30% of its budget from members without much apparent effort.

My big question, when I saw VWC revenues in the high six figures, was: where is it all coming from?  Haslam:

That work is supported by a combination of foundations which, typically, is about half of our support or maybe a little bit more. The other half is from our base, which is individuals and trade unions. I think it’s something like 20% unions, 30% individuals. It fluctuates year to year, but that’s about right.

I didn’t ask him for a list of foundations; as a nonprofit, VWC is not obligated to release donor information. VTDigger’s Morgan True reports that the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation is its largest nonprofit donor, having given $50,000 this year and a total of $160,000 since 2010. True also reports that VWC has strong ties to a national network of progressive organizations; “We’re part of a broader people’s movement to turn things around for working people,” Haslam told him. Well, if its largest foundation gift was 50K and they’re pulling in 400K from foundations, then they’re drawing from a large donor pool.

One other note from Thursday’s protest. It’s been reported that five of the 29 people arrested that day were paid by VWC, which has raised some hackles. Haslam says the five are members of VWC’s ten-person staff. He says they did not receive any remuneration beyond their regular pay for taking part in the protest or for being arrested.

At a planning meeting before the protest, Haslam told me, people were asked whether they would be willing to be arrested if necessary. “We were hoping that nobody would be arrested,” he said, “but our members felt that it was important for us to take a bold stand.”

Those who volunteered for arrest, he said, “were all people who had had first-hand experience with the health care crisis.” Five of them happened to be VWC staff. “That was a voluntary act for sure,” he says. “We have a number of staff people who didn’t do it.” Including, as it happens, Haslam himself.

With a committed membership and a growing financial base, VWC shows no signs of being a flash in the pan, or some sort of Occupy movement that will burn brightly for a brief time and then flame out. They look to be in this for the long haul, on a broad variety of issues. Whether or not they continue to declare themselves at big political events, they’ll be around, promoting their causes and making it harder to ignore their issues.

The art of the overblown headline

Ah, clickbait, thy name is Burlington Free Press. Today’s headline:

Accused Shelburne meat marauders cited

Wow. The mind reels. Was this a vicious gang, going around marauding meat? (Whatever that means.) Or were they an even more vicious gang, turning people into meat?

WIth breathelss anticipation, I clicked the link.

What a letdown.

Two people tried to steal $333 worth of meat from a supermarket.

Yep, that’s it.

Not only was the crime unworthy of the “marauder” monicker — they got caught!

“Marauders,” ny Aunt Fanny.