Welcome to the New Fascism

Josh Barro is a reporter at The New York Times an MSNBC contributor, or, in other words, a “Progressive”. He’s getting all sorts of pushback over the following tweets, made this morning:

He later makes clear that he simply means to suppress expressing one’s opinions on the subject of sexuality, specifically LGBT sexuality, that differ from his own… to belittle, as a society, any dissent from groupthink.

I’ve spoken on this before, and suffered the consequences, but I’d rather stand for my principles than just “go along to get along.”

It may surprise you to hear that I am, at least partially, in agreement with Mr. Barro. I do believe we should be as accepting as possible of people as they present themselves to be. If a man prefers to lie with a man, what is that to me? It affects me in no way. However, my choosing not to express my befuddlement why a man would want to do that is my conscious choice, but if I felt strongly enough against the practice or someone flat out asked my opinion, I should be confident enough that there would be no undue reprisals that I would speak my mind.

My disagreement with Mr. Barro comes with the judgmental attitude that he has. Granted, it’s just his opinion, it has no force in law or anything, but he’s suggesting the collective “we” should all band together and shame people who express objectionable opinions into not speaking. He’s suggesting people like himself should be able to control the discussion. He’s suggesting that people with whom disagree with him should shut up.

We’ve come a long way from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

There’s a difference between disagreeing with someone, finding someone’s views reprehensible, and actively seeking to stifle free speech. In the first example, I disagree with Mr. Barro. In the second, I find practically everything coming out of Westboro Baptist Church to be detestable apostasy. Then there’s Mr. Barro’s assertion that we should somehow suppress or censor or otherwise eliminate speech he disagrees with.

In the first two cases, I hold that both have every right to think and to say whatever they say without reasonable fear of reprisals. I won’t call for Mr. Barro to be fired or imprisoned or killed to otherwise mistreated because I do not agree with him, because I am civil and because he has a Constitutional right to his beliefs. Would I enjoy meeting him and sharing a drink with him? I doubt it. That is the extent to which I would reproach Mr. Barro.

And who would decide what is permissible and impermissible in this new groupthink? Mr. Barro? Me? You? If people are not free to speak their minds, we descend, ultimately, into the kind of new Fascism that Mr. barrio and his ilk represent.

How to Get the Most Out of a Service Call

It happens to all of us: A product or service breaks down, a bill has an error, or something happens where a customer service and/or technical support person needs to get involved. Here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of calling for help, the next time you need it, from someone who has been on the other end of the call. You can thank me later.

1. If it’s really urgent (as in your service is completely down), please call as soon as possible – Don’t wait until later to call, and then complain that your service has been down for an extended time.
2. Be where you can assist – If you’re having trouble with your service, don’t call from your cell phone on the opposite side of town.
3. Have something to write with – At the top, write down the date and time you begin the call, for your own records. When the agent calls, they should always identify themselves by name, or at least by some sort of unique ID… write that down! Over the course of the call, they may provide information that you might find useful… phone numbers, ticket numbers, etc. Write them down, as well.
4. Have your account information available – Specifically your account number.
5. Don’t begin the call with a deluge of information – At the onset, identify yourself by name, give them a brief description of the issue, when wait for them to prompt you for additional information.
6. Be sure they have a good callback number – A good representative will either verify the phone number you’re calling from or specifically ask for one, then if the call is dropped mid-conversation, they would be able to contact you again and continue.
7. Make certain you’re dealing with the right person – A Billing agent may not be able to troubleshoot your equipment like a Tech Support agent could. A Tech Support agent may not be able to help with a Sales issue. Be sure you’re talking to someone who can help with whatever the current issue is.
8. Don’t get upset – Harder to do than say, but raising your voice, belittling the agent or crying will not make the agent work any harder or magically be able to correct your issue. They will already be trying their best before any drama comes into play. In fact, becoming upset only makes the agent raise their emotional defenses and may actually work against you, because no one like to talk to another person who’s being belligerent and/or unreasonable.
9. Never use profanity – at best it’ll just make the agent start tuning you out, at worst they may be authorized to hang up on you after giving you a warning. The occasional slip of the tongue is usually overlooked, though.
10. Never threaten violence – Every call is recorded, and any and all caller information will be forwarded to the police in your area. You will be prosecuted.
11. Never threaten legal action – Once you threaten to sue the company, you’ll likely be immediately transferred to the legal office and the agent will, by policy, no longer be able to converse with you.

You may not believe it, but the vast majority of call center workers really do care and want to see your issues addressed to your satisfaction. There are a few that have either done it so long to or are so new that they haven’t gotten with the program, but those people will eventually self-terminate. Those of us who invest ourselves in providing a good service experience many times run the risk of having our feelings hurt because actually caring exposes us to the bad calls along with the good ones.

So, if I may add a #12 to the list, it’d be, “Remember the person on the other end of the call is human, too.”

wp_nav_menu does something I don’t care for

wp_nav_menu() is a function in WordPress that provides the code to display navigation menus on your blog. Being the OCD freak that I am, the function currently does something that drives me crazy.

Calling the function with a handful of links should yield code (in my opinion) that should look like this:

				<ul id="list_id" class="list_class" role="navigation">
					<li id="menu-item-id"><a href="http://wordpress.org/1/">Link 1</a></li>
					<li id="menu-item-id"><a href="http://wordpress.org/2/">Link 2</a></li>
					<li id="menu-item-id"><a href="http://wordpress.org/3/">Link 3</a></li>
				</ul>

Instead, it comes out looking like this:

				<ul id="list_id" class="list_class" role="navigation"><li id="menu-item-id"><a href="http://wordpress.org/1/">Link 1</a></li>
<li id="menu-item-id"><a href="http://wordpress.org/2/">Link 2</a></li>
<li id="menu-item-id"><a href="http://wordpress.org/3/">Link 3</a></li>
</ul>

Notice that the first list item is immediately appended to the unordered list tag. Also, each subsequent line goes back to the first character of the new line, instead of being formatted in a manner consistent with readable code.

Now, I’d assume the function itself would have no way of knowing how many tabs or spaces precede it, so it wouldn’t be able to format it correctly, is that correct? I don’t know the answer, that’s why I’m asking the question. But at the very least, shouldn’t it insert a carriage return before the first line item?

WordCamp Austin 2014

Jen Mylo discusses how people can contribute to WordPress

Jen Mylo discusses how people can contribute to WordPress

Lead Core Developer Andrew Nacin talks about how he got involved with the WordPress project

Lead Core Developer Andrew Nacin talks about how he got involved with the WordPress project

"The only group in Austin that meets more often than the Austin WordPress Meetup group in Austin is AA" ~ Sandi Chevalier-Batik

“The only group in Austin that meets more often than the Austin WordPress Meetup group in Austin is AA” ~ Sandi Chevalier-Batik

"Charge a lot of money for fewer customers, that's the way to go about it."

“Charge a lot of money for fewer customers, that’s the way to go about it.”

David Vogelpohl speaking on Advanced Online Marketing with WordPress

Zac Gordon speaking on The Ins and Outs of The Template Hierarchy

Joe Casabona speaking on Developing Responsive Themes and Plugins

Chris Nichols on Basic Theme Building

Corey Ellis speaking about SASS in Sassy Foundations

Brandon Kraft explaining Git

WordCamp Austin 2014: The Schedule

This weekend I will be in attendance at WordCamp Austin 2014. After making some hard decisions, here is the schedule I’ve set out for myself:

Saturday, April 26th

8:00am: Registration

9:00am: Keynote by Jen Mylo in the Big Tex Auditorium – Mylo is an Automattician who previously focused on Automattic’s designs and user experiences, but has shifted into a role designed to increase community and contributions for WordPress as a whole, so I expect she’ll likely speak to that.

10:45am: Building a Profitable, Bootstrapped Business on WordPress by Jason Cohen  in the Big Tex Auditorium

11:45am: Lunch – presumably BBQ… it’s a WordCamp tradition and this is Austin, anyway.

1:45pm: Advanced Online Marketing with WordPress by David Vogelpohl in the Big Tex Auditorium

3:00pm: The Ins and Outs of The Template Hierarchy by Zac Gordon in the Longhorn Room

4:15pm: Developing Responsive Themes and Plugins by Joe Casabona in the Longhorn Room

5:30pm: Closing Remarks

6:00pm: After Party

 

Sunday, April 27th

8:00am: Registration

9:00am: Keynote by Andrew Nacin in the Big Tex Auditorium – Nacin is one of the few WordPress Lead Developers, and well-known in support of OpenSource and contributing to the WordPress core, so I assume he’ll encourage attendees to become contributors.

10:30am: The Future of Responsive Design by Nick Batik in the Longhorn Room

11:45am: Lunch

1:15pm: Basic Theme Building by Chris Nichols in the Longhorn Room

2:30pm: Sassy Foundations by Corey Ellis in the Li’l Tex Auditorium

3:45pm: Git It Done! by Brandon Kraft in the Longhorn Room

5:45pm: Closing Remarks – I’m not sure if that’s a typo or if the last session somehow lasts two hours instead of one. Either way, I’ll likely just use the time to chat with new friends and old before heading home for the night.

 

All in all, it looks like it’ll be time well spent, although I’m still pretty pissed off about paying $40 and not getting the traditional t-shirt! (Even if it is two days, this year.)

Can you be a Christ-follower and a Republican at the same time?

A personal role-model, of sorts, of mine is Neil Peart, percussionist and writer of the progressive rock band, Rush. In a recent interview, he said:

“A realization I had lately: it is impossible to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and be a Republican. It’s philosophically absolutely opposed—if they could only think about what they were saying for a minute.” ~ Neil Peart on introverts, learning to improvise, and why people should be nicer to one another, Macleans, Monday, August 13, 2012

I disagree. Being a Christ-follower is how I choose to live my personal life… Being a Republican is how I choose to self-associate with like-minded others as we attempt to influence our government’s laws and policies.

Are there those in the GOP that aren’t as liberty-minded as I am? Of course they are! And if the party ever codifies it’s position papers to, say, make simply being a homosexual or living together illegal or seizing the assets of progressives, then I’m outta there! I’d like to see the party move in a more libertarian direction than it has been known to be, but I’m not going to start publicly castigating fellow party members when they start droning on and one when a candidate isn’t pro-life enough for them.

Ideally, I’d like to be part of the Libertarian Party, but that’s just not feasible at the moment. For one thing, many libertarians I know are incredulous at the dedication (or lack thereof) of other libertarians. It’s not a political party, in the traditional sense: Dedicated to getting candidates elected — it’s an idealogical movement: Where persons may be castigated if they are not ideologically pure enough. It becomes like herding cats — Each person taking individualism to the extreme.

Another reason is that they aren’t (at the moment) a large enough force to be reckoned with. Honestly, at the moment Libertarians (big L) are simply spoilers, ensuring that the party in the “two party system” whose ideas more closely match the Libertarian Party (which is the GOP) has votes siphoned off that would have otherwise gone to them, causing the other party (the Democrats) to win.

Who the Libertarian Party might become to the Republicans what the Republicans were to the Whigs is a topic for another discussion. I suppose what I’m saying is, a case could be made for Christians being in nearly any political party. I’d imagine that there are actually even Democrats who consider themselves to be Christian, although I don’t understand how they’d align themselves with the party. In the end, who am I to judge, either way.

Also, Peart is Canadian! Why would I expect him to understand American politics?! ;P