Prosperity Changes People

I used to have an older buddy in college who was even more permanently skint than I was. I remember how he went on a MacDonald’s diet (meaning he only ate at MacDonald’s for three months) to save money. Of course, he ended up in a hospital as a result.

Oh, I remember those times when we thought ordering a complex mocha drink and a piece of cake was the height of luxury.

Today, my buddy is a tenured prof with a very comfortable lifestyle.

He wrote to me today, saying: “I’m spending this year in France, so if you find yourself in Paris, do come by my place.”

Yes, if I happen to pass by Paris on my jaunts around the world, I’ll definitely pop by his house.

Eve Ensler’s Article on Rape

Eve Ensler’s recent anti-rape manifesto puzzled me. I fully support Ensler’s sentiment that rape is a horrible crime that should never be tolerated. However, I find some of her assertions to be very troubling. Take this one, for example:

 I am over women getting raped at Occupy Wall Street and being quiet about it because they were protecting a movement which is fighting to end the pillaging and raping of the economy and the earth, as if the rape of their bodies was something separate.

First, we saw progressive journalists drop hints as to the possibility of sexual harassment occurring at #Occupy rallies. Why such suggestions had never been made about the Tea Party protests is a mystery to me. Is there any evidence that progressively minded people are more likely to rape than conservatives?

Then, these suggestions about sexual harassment among the #Occupiers transformed into hints that women might fear being raped during the protests. Now, Ensler talks about rapes taking place during the protests as if they were an established fact.  Several questions arise, however. If, as Ensler says, women are keeping quiet about the rapes to protect the movement, then how did Ensler find out about these crimes? Did the raped victims share their stories with her? This makes no sense because if the goal of these rape victims is to protect the #OWS, letting Ensler write about it in such a charged format is probably the worst thing to do.

I also have no idea how Ensler arrived at her statistic of 1 billion of women on the planet having been raped. The OCCUPYRAPE term she introduces is very disturbing to me, too. Rape is a horrible crime and I see nothing positive in “occupying” something like this. And what is the “escalation” that Ensler is proposing? If this is a legitimate attempt at political activism, why not be a bit more specific about what the plan here is. This “let’s end rape by February of 2013” reminds me of the promises endlessly made by the Communist Party of the USSR to create a fully communist society by the year 2000.

It would be great if Ensler’s impassioned but hopelessly vague verbiage included references to the fact that the rates of violent crime (including rape) in this country have been on a steady decline in the past 40 years. The legalization of abortion in the US was a significant contributing factor to this phenomenon. Now that we know this, any anti-rape activism needs to include efforts to guarantee that all women have the right to control their procreation when and how they see fit.

This will do a lot more to end rape than passionate manifestos that make wild claims and operate on the basis of unsubstantiated statistics.

Why AdSense Sucks

Reader oyiabrown asks:

Any chance you could expand on what are the grave limitations of AdSense by Google (mentioned above) – to a raw WordPress beginner, when you have a moment?

I’ve been waiting for somebody to ask me about this and now that this reader has, I’m happy to explain how Google AdSense works.

AdSense is a program that places ads on your blog and then gives you money whenever anybody clicks on them. It might work quite well for smaller blogs with very modest readerships. You might get your $30 every 6 months or so and have no major issues.

However, when a blog’s popularity grows and it starts making more money for the blogger, problems begin. AdSense uses every opportunity to shut down your account and keep the money you have accumulated in it. As soon as your AdSense account gets a few hundred dollars in it, be prepared for the AdSense to manufacture some pretext to close the account and keep the money.

What can those pretexts be? Well, anything that can be qualified as “suspicious clicking activity” (this is an official term used by AdSense). If the company decides that a certain reader has clicked too often or too much, this is grounds for termination. If you clicked on an ad on your own blog just once either from curiosity, to see how it works, or simply by mistake, your account will be terminated and you will never be able to start a new one even if you open a completely different blog 3 years later.

Also, if your blog is popular, it might start attracting trolls. A troll can maliciously get your account terminated by clicking on ads many times in rapid succession.

In many cases, accounts get terminated and AdSense keeps all the money in them for no discernible reason whatsoever. I’ve read dozens of complaints about it on the Blogger discussion forum, and the main problem is that there is no appealing such decisions. The account gets closed and there is nothing you can do.

P.S. I don’t use AdSense and the annoying ad that started appearing after the first post on the Home Page is something that I have neither requested nor have any control over. This is something that WordPress is doing to generate revenues for itself. I think it’s fair, albeit annoying to me, because the folks at WordPress provide really fantastic support to their bloggers.