Anonymity

I thought of an interesting legal conundrum this morning.

Was watching soccer on tv this morning, talking about racist abuse of soccer players on social media. I shan’t even bother on this issue – I very much doubt anybosy who thinks it is acceptable also reads my blog.

It crossed my mind that these players are all multi-millionaires, certainly at Premier League level. So, why can’t they find out who these abusers are, and take action privately?

I suppose the difficulty is getting social media companies to disclose the IP address from which the comment came. I’m sure it must be recorded. Certainly, it can be recorded. I can understand that you probably can’t use the UK courts, because the data will be held offshore, but these footballers are people of means – they can find out where the data is located, and take action in that jurisdiction.

Assuming that they could get that IP address, it’s easy enough to trace that back to an ISP. The ISP will know who and when that IP address was doled out to. The legal conundrum is how an individual can convince an ISP to disclose that information.

You normally assume that a member of the public can’t get at that information. Yet some people, or organisations, can. People in the UK have been arrested for hacking into US government sites, and the technical process there is exactly the same for finding the culprit. I can maybe understand that when the US government comes knocking, then doors are open. But I’m just a little bemused when a wodge of money doesn’t open those same doors.

It’s not even as if this is just a private prosecution. If these guys have suffered racist abuse, then surely the whole thing turns criminal?

Blogger vs. WordPress

I read a new blog. I like it because it makes me think about different things. Not just think, but learn. With some of the things, I’m definitely out of my comfort zone.

Take the last post. This guy is American, so talks about the US system. He also talks politics, where it has a US flavour.

I mean, I’m happy to get involved in “universal” politics, but when it has a foreign tint on it, I’m out of my comfort zone.

Yesterday, he started talking about Trump. Trump’s pretty much “universal” politics, because we’ve all heard of him, and we all have a view. When you talk about Trump, you don’t need an additional paragraph to explain who he is (or, particularly, what his views are). But talk about Congressman A, I’m pretty lost. So the debate yesterday involved my learning a bit about the Electoral College over there. Actually, as far as I’m concerned, it has exactly the same problems as the EU. I’ve posted about Malta before. We had European Elections as recently as 2019, numbers might have tweaked a bit, but nothing fundamentally has changed. They’ve obviously don’t think there’s a problem, and there’s certainly no interest in fixing anything. That’s why I still want to leave – I want to be a part of some organisation which will represent every European equally, and until they get can get that most fundamental of fundamentals right, I’m not interested.

Anyway, I’m not going to get bogged down in Brexit.

This chap writes on WordPress. the raw application is actually open source (which is free and, well, open), I write on Blogger, proprietary, owned by Google, but free all the same. I’m trying to work out the difference between the two, whether one is better than the other. I’m still very much learning here, but my understanding is that, at its core, WordPress is a content management system. You can just download it to run on your own web server. I checked my Microsoft host, no mention that they support WordPress, although they say they support all the things that WordPress says it requires. . But they’re really a programming platform – you wouldn’t really use my company just to run an off-the-shelf program, you’d do something more bespoke.

But that’s the thing. WordPress is an application. In its purest form, wordpress.org, open source, free, all the things the web should be. People who use it, have to run their site somewhere. Enter wordpress.com. However not-for-profit the .org is, the .com most certainly isn’t! They want £80-something to host my blog for two years. So, I’m a bit incredulous. Blogger comes for free, and as far as I can tell, meets my needs, but if I want to use wordpress.com, looks like I’ll have to subscribe to something. I’m still trying to get my head around that “subscription” bit! There are other providers, of course, when all’s said and done it’s just plain-old hosting. I doubt it is rocket science to run the WordPress app on your server. I even found some providers that claimed a free service. But of course, these are hosting companies who want you to buy their premium service, so how good is the “free” version going to be?

It does, at least, look like I could export my entire blog from Google. On WordPress.com, at least. I’ve been less successful with the free providers, so far, but I’ll keep trying. My blog currently has hundreds of posts going back over 2 years, I’m not willing to lose them – it’ll have to be someone who can import the Blogger content. I guess I have some reading to do, not least the answer to my very first question – whether I’d get a better blog by switching service.

I don’t know. Something I need to find out about. Something I need to work out whether I do want to spend the money. A task for the coming days!

Across the Broad Atlantic

I’m having an interesting disagreement with a chap at the moment. I say “disagreement” but I actually mean a semi-disagreement, because I think we’re both on the same side.

The debate was about Donald Trump. He doesn’t like him, I don’t like him.

The debate went along the lines:

– [Me] Trump wants America to prosper [referring to “Make America Great Again” nonsense]. If I were an American, that at least would be good [even if he’s going about that in a dumb way]
– Trump’s only interested in him and his cronies, not average Americans
= [Me] He got 60M votes. They can’t all be his cronies.
– Mostly a certain type of person

My point is simply that it doesn’t matter who these people were who voted for Trump. What matters is that their votes counted in 2016 and will count again in 2020. If they don’t change their mind and vote the other way, then Trump will be re-elected.

Maybe some of them will change their mind? Trump is staring recession in the face, after all, and that won’t please his heartlands.

Or maybe apathy will come into it? I looked up some numbers, and found that turnout in the presidential poll was only around 60%. To a Brit, that’s low, we’re generally up around 70%-ish. here. My own constituency was 75% last time. Certainly from here, both candidates looked awful, so I can totally understand somebody not voting at all. But the turnout in 2016 was not particularly lower than 2012.

At this point, US Politics gets beyond me. I don’t know how many more turnout you’d need to give a Democrat win, even if you could assume every single fresh voter voted Democrat. As my friend pointed out, they already won the popular vote last time out, quite comfortably, but the US system is every bit as convoluted as our’s, and just getting more votes than your opponent doesn’t guarantee anything. I haven’t heard anyone in the US ask “why?” yet, in the context of electoral reform, but I’m sure that must be happening. I hope so, at any rate. In this day and age, we can just tot up the numbers as they roll in, and simply let the president be the person with the most votes. Somebody in Las Vegas carries just as much weight as someone in Boston. That seems exactly as it should be.

Again, possibly my lack of American knowledge lets me down – I know that the public decides how their Electoral College votes (mostly!), but I don’t really understand the purpose of the Electoral College. Why, these days, is it even inserted into the process at all? What did surprise me was to learn that several members of the Electoral Colleges defected, and voted against the wishes of their electorate. It was small and worked out roughly even, so didn’t have a decisive effect, else I’m sure I would have known. But it does surprise me that it is felt appropriate for somebody to feel that their own opinion is worth more than thousands of electors, and still feel they are suitable to take part in the democratic process.