Michigan representative Todd Courser wants to make it hard for non-hetero Christians to get married

Updated 2015-09-11: Todd Courser, bigoted homophobic Republican state representative, has resigned. His coworker, that he was having an adulteress affair with, has been fired (technically “expelled”) by the rest of the state legislature. Please excuse me while I experience some schadenfreude.
Updated 2015-08-08: I just learned that Todd Courser, the elected representative responsible for the Christian motivated legislative bill I discuss below was having an affair (i.e., committing adultery) with legislator Cindy Gamrat. You can read about it in the Detroit News. Honestly, what the fuck is with these moralizing assholes who insist on imposing their religious morals on everyone else when they themselves are breaking that very code of conduct?

I read this article at The Friendly Atheist blog. It so outraged me I took the time to send the following email to Rep. Courser:

Mr. Courser,

Have you actually thought about the ramifications of your proposed legislation? What about atheists? Mixed faith couples? Religious couples who simply don't want a religious "leader" involved? No one is asking that government officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses agree with the beliefs of people seeking to be married. If a government official is incapable of doing the job they were hired to do they should be encouraged to seek another job.

To my surprise I received a reply:

from:      toddcourser@house.mi.gov
to:        krader@skepticism.us
date:      Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 9:56 AM
subject:   Re: so you believe atheists shouldn't be able to marry?
mailed-by: email.nationbuilder.com

Dear Kurtis,

Please read the bills.  You will see that you will not be required to be married in any faith.  In fact, the marriage does not have to be religious.  There does not have to be a ceremony.  The marriage can be recognized by an affidavit signed by both parties and given to the county clerk.  The bills are taking the government out of the marriage process, not determining who should be married and how.  There will be more freedom, not less.

Respectfully,
Karen Couture
Legislative Aide
Rep. Todd Courser

Hmmm, perhaps Mr. Mehta and other sources I’ve read about this legislation have drawn the wrong conclusion. So I did read each of the three bills: HB 4731, HB 4732, HB 4733. There is also an announcement at gophouse.org regarding the three bills. This is the reply I sent Ms. Couture and Mr. Courser:

Ms. Couture,

I just finished reading all three bills (HB 4731, 4732, 4733). What you say is literally true in as much as the bills do not require the  applicants to affirm a specific faith. However, the bills expressly require the applicant to have their "MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY CLERGY"(from page one of HB 4733 but similar language and provisions are in the other two bills). At the top of page two it says "AS USED IN THIS ACT, "CLERGY" MEANS A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL, CLERIC, OR RELIGIOUS PRACTITIONER."

The bills also explicitly modify the language to read "minister of the Gospel" rather than simply "minister" which makes it quite clear Mr. Courser favors Christian sects. These bills quite clearly make it more difficult for anyone not a member of a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish faith tradition to get married. The bills effectively make it impossible for an atheist to be married in your state unless they're willing to disregard their beliefs regarding religion and beg a "minister of the gospel" to grant them the boon of a certified marriage certificate.

You should hang your head in shame for lying like that. Lying for Jebus is still lying and not acceptable in civilized society.
Rep. Courser’s office sent me another email pointing out that section 1A (page 3, line 13) of HB 4733 does provide for registering a marriage by filing a notarized affidavit. I’m not a lawyer but it does appear that section allows for atheists, homosexuals, and any other minority group to have their marriage recognized by the state of Michigan.

Nonetheless I find the bill odious. It clearly signals that Christian marriage is preferable to marriages not recognized by Christian sects. There is absolutely no legitimate secular (i.e., government interest) for doing so. Rep. Courser could simply omit section 1 and require everyone follow the requirements in section 1A and his goal of protecting the fragile religious sensibilities of state employees would still be met.

Movie Review: Jurassic World

I just wasted an afternoon watching a summer blockbuster movie even worse than San Andreas. Even though I only payed $5.50 to watch the movie I still feel like I was ripped off. At least San Andreas had Paul Giamitti portraying a scientist who wasn’t an idiot or amoral asshole. Too, very little of the dialog in San Andreas was laughable. The same cannot be said about Jurassic World.

The only redeeming feature of Jurassic World is the CGI. The dialog is awful. The acting is awful. It’s clear that Chris Pratt understands he is in a movie that deserves an over the top performance.

A few people sitting behind me clapped at the end of the movie. They were clearly not being ironic given other emotive outbursts I heard from them throughout the film. The only reason I would clap is because the fucking train wreck was over.

Craniosacral Therapy and Whole Foods

Today I visited the newest Whole Foods store in San Jose on The Alameda Ave. just outside of downtown San Jose. This is what I saw across the street:

Cranial Sacral Therapy

The sign reads “Cranial Sacral Therapy Center“. A form of alternative medicine that is only slightly less ridiculous than Homeopathy. Note that this therapy is more commonly known as “Craniosacral”. See Quackwatch and Science Based Medicine for just two takedowns of this horse shit.

What does this have to do with Whole Foods? The target demographic of Whole Foods are the type of people who will pay outrageous prices for products labeled “holistic”, “organic”, etcetera. The typical Whole Foods store has a couple of aisles devoted to selling homeopathic preparations, herbs (for medicinal not cooking purposes), and items like bee pollen. None of which do a single thing to improve your health. So the presence of a clinic that sells a nonsense treatment across the street from a Whole Foods store is pure marketing genius on the part of the owners of that enterprise as they are targeting the same demographic.

P.S., Prior to today it’s been over a year since I’ve been inside a “Whole Paycheck” store. I was in the mood for some decent coleslaw and macaroni salad without going to the trouble of making it myself. I spent $20 and left with a couple of pounds of food. They were charging $3 for a donut and $1 for a single cookie even when buying them in boxes containing six cookies! Not exactly a bargain and why I won’t be buying from Whole Foods again anytime soon. The quality is very good but the prices aren’t just high they’re outrageous.

Read this article at Daily Kos about the results of an investigation that found Whole Foods is systemically ripping off its customers by overcharging for products that they package and sell by weight.

Also, as a result of writing this article I finally took the trouble to search for recipes to make my own “Whole Foods broccoli crunch” salad. A pound of broccoli crowns is currently selling for $1.29 per pound at my local Sprouts supermarket. Factor in a few raisins, sunflower seeds, red onion, bacon, and dressing ingredients and it costs me roughly $3.60/lb to make it myself. My local Whole Foods charges $9.99/lb. Whole Foods charges that much because it is what they think the market will bear. Not because it represents a reasonable profit. Can you say “rip-off”?

Wealthy Californians should pay dearly for their ornamental lawns

The Washington Post published an article titled Rich Californians balk at limits: ‘We’re not all equal when it comes to water’. It’s getting a lot of attention. Such as this article at Daily Kos. The article includes many memorable quotes including the one in the title. Here’s another one from a self-centered, entitled, oblivious asshole throwing a tantrum:

What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?

I should point out that as a software engineer in Silicon Valley my income is only slightly less than the median for the community that was the focus of the article. And yet I can’t identify with the douche-nozzles featured in the article. Nor do I have any sympathy for their situation.

This quote caught my eye:

Once the water goes through the meter, it’s yours.

You know what? I agree. However, I think the cost of that water should be progressively priced with a steep increase in each tier. For residential use every home should receive an allotment large enough to meet the basic living needs (drinking, bathing, toilet) for, say, a family of four at a base rate. The next tier might allow enough water for plants, but no lawn, on a typical 1/8 acre single home plot and be priced at double the base rate. The third tier would provide double the allotment of the second tier and be priced at eight times the base rate. That should give you enough water for a decent size lawn and to wash your car every week. If that still isn’t enough water for your landscape, pool, jacuzzi, and to wash your four cars twice a week then you can purchase even more water but at a rate 50 times the base rate.

People should be free to piss away their money in pretty much any manner they see fit. If that means wasting potable water when there isn’t enough to meet the needs of the entire society they should be free to do so. But “free” only in the sense they can make that choice. The financial cost of wasting that resource should most decidedly not be “free”.

Hosting provider ovh.net is incompetent at handling abuse reports

Hosting provider ovh.net has published WhoIs data that says they handle abuse reports at the email address abuse@ovh.net. So I dutifully reported a WordPress account credential guessing attack that began on 2015-03-18. I sent emails on 2015-03-25 and again on 2015-06-04. As of today, 2015-06-14, three months after the first attack I’m still seeing attacks from that server. This was my first email (I’ve clipped the log records I included to just the first one):

from:    Kurtis Rader 
to:      abuse@ovh.net
date:    Mon, May 25, 2015 at 5:56 PM
subject: HTTP attack from your network (188.165.61.65)

Timestamps UTC-7. My IP 75.101.21.75.

2015-05-24T17:53:47 1432515227.388128 403 address-blacklisted 4773 808 188.165.61.65 www.skepticism.us "POST /wp-login.php HTTP/1.1" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.5.21022)"

So I called their support phone number. The support representative told me abuse emails are handled automatically. He implied that no human is ever involved in handling those emails but I couldn’t get him to say so directly. He said that the only sure way to get Ovh.net to pay attention was to use their abuse web form. Which is the most annoying such form I’ve ever encountered.

This is the type of behavior that makes the balkanization of the Internet more likely. ISPs and hosting providers need to take security far more seriously and ruthlessly disconnect systems that are infected by malware.

Updated 2015-06-18: I just noticed that web crawler [AhrefsBot](http://ahrefs.com/robot/) is hosted by ovh.net. Yet AhrefsBot is an example of a web crawler that is a good Internet citizen. It identifies itself, honors robots.txt, and has never done anything to trip my extremely aggressive blacklist rules. Not every ovh.com customer is an asshole. I simply wish ovh.com would be more aggressive about dealing with the idiots who let their servers be infected with malware.
Updated 2015-07-13: Someone emailed me asking why their computer was blocked by my server. They also complained that another site had blocked his OVH server. Which prompted me to check if 188.165.61.65 was still attacking my server. Yes, it is. It made fifteen WordPress credential guesses less than a week ago on 7/7. That server has been attacking my server for four months and continues to do so after I’ve reported the abuse to OVH three times. And there are another 30 OVH servers that have been attacking mine for as long as two months. So, yes, I stand by my assertion that OVH has an incompetent abuse department.

Ben Carson wants to implement the East German Stasi in the USA

If you haven’t watched The Lives of Others you should do so at your earliest opportunity. It’s necessary to provide context for 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson’s remarks regarding the need for our own secret police:

The pediatric neurosurgeon-turned-candidate told a crowd of Iowa Republicans he is “thinking very seriously” about adding “a covert division of people who look like the people in this room, who monitor what government people do.” Carson suggested people would work harder if they suspected their coworkers of monitoring their work. “And we make it possible to fire government people!” he said to loud cheers.

As Charles P. Pierce is known to say: “We are indeed very fcked.”

Email I receive: “maybe u r the 1 ‘blacklisted’ from heaven.”

This morning I noticed an interesting series of fetches from my web site with the user-agent value

Domain Re-Animator Bot (http://domainreanimator.com) - support@domainreanimator.com

Nearly every URI was requested at least twice. One of the URIs was requested five times in a row which triggered one of my blacklisting rules. So I sent an email to support@domainreanimator.com pointing out that their crawler is rather stupid in its behavior. This is the response I received:

From: Nate Fischer <support @domainreanimator.com>
Subject: Re: Your web crawler is broken
Mailed-by: email.freshdesk.com

Hi Kurtis Rader,

I'm afraid u r the grosssly imcompetent 1... i pray sum day u accept jesus as ur lord n savior.  maybe u r the 1 'blacklisted' from heaven. 

I am not making this up. That email is a direct copy-paste from my inbox. I think that will stand as the most unprofessional response I will ever receive from a company. For some context the URI that was fetched multiple times in quick succession was my blog post Yet another Christian who can’t resist proselytizing in the wrong context. Apparently Nate is a God fearing, everyone but me is going to hell, Jesus freak.

Also, as you can see from their website it appears the business model is to assist scumbags in performing “search engine optimization”. Which itself deserves the Internet Death Penalty. So that user-agent value is now in my blacklisting rules:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Domain\sRe-Animator\sBot

The Rude Pundit nails it again regarding crime and punishment

I’ve been binge watching “The Wire” for a couple of weeks since I signed up for HBONow. This is a show renowned for its realistic depiction of how police handle crime in Baltimore, MA, USA. I love the show and hate what it says about the America I live in as a privileged white male.

The Rude Pundit writes another article you should be reading instead of mine about “America’s Obsession With Punishment: Who Cares If You’re Guilty?“. How can anyone, even a Republican, agree that holding someone in jail for three years for petty theft (even assuming there is sufficient reason to believe they are guilty) without trail is moral and consistent with American ideals?

See this article from the New York Times in April, 2015 where they claim

As of late March, over 400 people had been locked up for more than two years without being convicted of a crime, according to city data that is to be released publicly for the first time. And there are currently a half-dozen people at Rikers who have been waiting on pending cases for more than six years.

Why am I seeing POST http://ntweb.org/ gpservices/proxyjudge7/ requests?

Updated 2015-06-12: It occurred to me to check the I/O trace file. All of the proxy requests have a referrer header of gatherproxy.com. Which is a site offering a list of proxies that can be abused to hide the source of an attack. They currently boast of having identified 9896 open proxies. Whomever registered gatherproxy.com and ntweb.com are using WhoIs privacy protection services. But the data is sufficiently different it isn’t obvious if the same individual registered both domains. In my opinion both domains deserve to be blacklisted by the entire Internet.

I’ve recently started seeing a new attack on my web server to see if it will act as an open HTTP proxy. The sources are in France, Spain, and Lithuania. Two of the sources made only the single proxy probe. The other two made requests for other URIs with varying user-agent strings that are strongly indicative of malware.

I’ve tentatively concluded these requests are from malware attempting to exploit an insecure service run by ntweb.org to detect open HTTP proxies. So I went to their “contact us” web page and sent this message (plus the log entries below):

It appears that hackers are abusing a service you manage. I'm seeing the following HTTP requests in my server logs. Obviously I don't know how your service would respond since I'm rejecting the proxy request but if that service is publicly accessible and can be used by malware to detect open proxies you need to secure your service.

If I get a response from ntweb.org I’ll update this article.

2015-06-11T11:29:24 1434047364.247346 400 proxy-probe 6341 611 195.154.52.49 ntweb.org "POST http://ntweb.org/gpservices/proxyjudge7/?key=yS9yppChI%2bIZ1mNKQ36SWLAxhSNtjlVXa5sc7sjBaME%3d HTTP/1.1" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1) ; (R1 1.6); .NET CLR 2.0.50727)"
2015-06-11T11:46:23 1434048383.939017 400 proxy-probe 2284 608 78.56.4.12 ntweb.org "POST http://ntweb.org/gpservices/proxyjudge7/?key=yS9yppChI%2bIZ1mNKQ36SWGT6GQB2RWB9K2ClOO6fZYc%3d HTTP/1.1" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; Hotbar 4.5.0.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727)"
2015-06-11T13:41:58 1434055318.246764 400 proxy-probe 6412 610 5.40.111.162 ntweb.org "POST http://ntweb.org/gpservices/proxyjudge7/?key=yS9yppChI%2bIZ1mNKQ36SWF%2fUW7eSCNtPXEvj2g35fzw%3d HTTP/1.1" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; yplus 5.1.04b)"
2015-06-11T15:22:23 1434061343.070642 403 address-blacklisted 1820 925 83.173.159.11 ntweb.org "POST http://ntweb.org/gpservices/proxyjudge7/?key=yS9yppChI%2bIZ1mNKQ36SWFa7ai3zjR%2bPyym%2f%2bUHfJNg%3d HTTP/1.1" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.2; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)"

Interesting reviews of Nick Offerman’s new book

I learned today, thanks to The Daily Show, that Nick Offerman (best known for playing Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation”) has a new book titled “Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers”. I loved his first book, “Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living” and gave it a rare five star rating. I would listen to him read the back of a box of breakfast cereal. So I was elated to learn that his new book was available on Audible.com and rushed over there to purchase a copy.

Some of the Audible listener reviews from conservatives are jaw dropping. The first is from Erin Gilmore who writes

It’s not as good as his first book. Very heavy on politics and religion, and sadly Mr. Offerman adheres to most of the Hollywood ideology. While he tries to come across as middle of the road, he most definitely spouts off his hatred against anyone who believes in God and anyone who is conservative. I honestly think he’s still trying to figure out what he truly believes.

Erin is clearly not reading (or listening) for comprehension. It was absolutely clear in Offerman’s first book that he is a “Hollywood” liberal and has a low opinion of evangelical Christians (which Erin appears to be). I honestly don’t understand how she could be surprised that he continues to exhibit disdain for people like her in his second book. Too, I still don’t understand how a “Hollywood” liberal differs from someone like myself; a software engineer with zero artistic ability but a very liberal viewpoint.

The second is from Kenny who writes

I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately he seems to be stereo typical Hollywood liberal. Stating very many opinion that have very little facts to support then. Corporations are evil, GMO’s, hydraulic fracturing, cars, technology, USA are all evil. It seems to me he wishes that the country in the world would stay in the 1900s and have stopped evolving since then. His writings on World War II are downright juvenile. Overall there are some very interesting characters that I hadn’t know the ton about before hand. Unfortunately his spouting made me want to constantly turn this audiobook off.

I love that Kenny can say with a straight face that “His writings… are downright juvenile.” while being incapable of writing a grammatically correct sentence or coherent paragraph. Something most people who read books are able to do by the time they reach adulthood. Kenny also felt the need to post the same review twice.

I don’t know if Cody is being sincere or trolling but I agree with the sentiment about Offerman’s first book when he comments that

Mr. Offerman has come into his own with this book writing thing. His second book is exponentially better than his first and I enjoyed the first more than a colonoscopy. That being said, I can’t wait to read his sixth book