Happy Birthday Matt

So Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, is turning 40 in ten days and he asked for an interesting gift. He wants us to blog!

Well that shouldn’t be surprising. He made something I’m sure every blogger ever has some experience with. This blog is made possible by WordPress. There are some amazing blogging platforms out there but WordPress is something else. Its user experience is best by far.

I used to publish some blogs with static site generators but they weren’t as satisfying and convenient as it is to use WordPress. I’m writing this on a computer at my office. I don’t have my password manager on it so I created a temporary account on my WordPress installation using my phone and started writing this. After that I’ll delete the random user I created.

You see, that’s how easy WordPress makes it to blog. I can blog whenever I need, wherever I want. This is all thanks to you Matt, and Mike.

Matt is one of my favorite bloggers. He’s also on my blogroll and I’m subscribed to his feed on all of my feed readers. I enjoy reading his blogs and I have learnt so much from him. A while ago he posted a video on his blog, excited about experience a ride in a self-driving cab from Waymo. I remember thinking how cool is that, that he’s still sharing his experiences with his blog. And how amazing is that, that there are still active bloggers who enjoy updating their blogs like we used to, 15 years ago.

I’ve expressed my dislike of social networks for enough times but I don’t think I explained my still-growing enthusiasm towards blogging nearly enough and a big part of this is all thanks to what Matt created.

I’ve been using WordPress for a long time on many many blogs. It’s my go-to program when I want to set up a blog for someone. It’s everything someone needs to start. It’s easy to install and easy to use. So, why are you still not blogging? Go and start one, it’ll take about 15 minutes of your time until you publish your first post. Go and give Matt a birthday present.

Happy birthday Matt. WordPress is a wonderful gift you gave us.

Praise be to God

His son was in hospital after a car crash, injured and in critical condition. Doctors said there’s low chance that he survives. He couldn’t tolerate seeing him so he went outside and waited for an answer. His wife and other son came, loudly crying, and delivered the sad news to him. His son died. The car crash was too severe for the son to make it alive. He shed a tear and whispered “praise be to God.”

His wife cried more loudly and started hitting him angrily and asked him “your son died and you’re thanking God?” He replied “God is with us all the time. He gave me my son and he took him away. I thank him for good and bad. I’m his servant and he is my loving lord. Praise be to God for everything, not only in happiness, but also in sadness.”

Whether you believe in God or not, that’s a beautiful story.

A Kurdish woman visits the graves of her relatives who were killed in the gas attack in 1988 on the 24th anniversary of the attack at the memorial site to the victims in the Iraqi town of Halabja.

Saddam Hussein; what a legend!

1987 June 28, the city of Sardasht, West Azerbaijan was attacked by Iraqi aircraft with mustard gas bombs in two separate bombing runs on four residential areas. 130 people died and eight thousand people were injured.

Of the civilians who died, 39 were under 18 years of age, including 11 under the age of 5, and 34 were women or girls. In 2006, out of 20 thousand population of the city, a quarter were still suffering from the consequences of these bombings. There are people who still are suffering from those bombings today.

Many of the 95% who survived the Sardasht gas attack developed serious long-term complications over the next few years, including serious respiratory problems, eye lesions, skin problems, and immune system problems.

It’s almost 2024 and you would think people are sure of their feelings towards Saddam Hussein, the one who ordered the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Sardasht, far far from the war front. Not!

Just visit YouTube and search for Saddam Hussein, open a video and go to the comment section. Comments are filled with people calling Saddam a legend, a hero, a king. You would think that after bombing multiple cities and killing civilians in cold blood, people would realize what a monster he is, but no, they don’t, evidently.

Sardasht, Marivan, Halabja, Sarpol-e Zahab, Gilan-e-gharb, and Oshnavieh are cities documented to be targeted with chemical gas by Saddam Hussein. Not only the civilian areas alone but also medical centers and hospitals were targeted. What a legend!

The cities I mentioned are not the only ones, but the most famous ones. Near 41 thousand people overall were targeted by chemical weapons during the war. Forty one thousand people, at least. The actual casualties are much higher, as the latency period is as long as 40 years.

Iran asked the UN to engage in preventing Iraq from using chemical weapon agents, but there were no strong actions by the UN or other international organizations. The Security Council ratified reports of use of chemical weapons against Iran and two statements were issued, on 1984 March 13, and 1986 March 21, condemning Iraq for those chemical attacks, but the Iraqi regime did not abide by those condemnations and continued launching chemical attacks.

After the war, Saddam hid himself, then got arrested eventually, tried, and got hanged. There were celebrations all around Iran and Iraq by millions of people who finally were free from this monster. Now it’s almost 2024 and I see people calling him a hero. People seem to be blind.

One of my uncles who was 15 years old at that time was killed in Shalamcheh. His body was lost for almost 16 years. My grandfather tells me that during the 16 years of waiting for him in desperation, every time someone knocked on their door they would jump and rush to the door because deep down they had hope that maybe, maybe, it’s him coming back.

Someone knocked their door, finally, and gave them the news. A piece of his scapula and one boot, along with his dog tag was found. They had to do a DNA test to be sure that the bone was in fact his. This is the result of what this legend did. For 16 years they waited.

Halabja was one of the cities that was bombed by Saddam, with chemical weapons, and many people died there.

Qader Molanpour, who 2020 film Walnut Tree is based on him, lost his three children and his pregnant wife during delivery. All of his family members were exposed severely to chemical gases and died as the result of it. The newborn child, due to the improper condition of the hospital (as a result of attacks on hospitals and medical centers), was transferred to a hospital in the city of Tabriz and Molanpour could never find his last child ever. He died in 2016 December 31 while still searching for his child. His last child was named Zhina, meaning “life.”

It’s not really about Saddam. Saddam, Hitler, radical militia and terrorists around the world, these all have fans and supporters around the world. Taliban, with years of experience of torture, beheading, killing innocent people, and terrorist bombing on civilian areas, is now ruling Afghanistan and has its supporters. Hitler, with record killing of 40 million people (and total of 75 million) is a hero of some people.

Military generals of the confederate army who fought against liberation of slaves have their statues and flags up in states. There are some Italians, and some others, who worship Benito Mussolini, a dictator who killed over a million people.

I don’t know what has happened to us but there’s something we did wrong. We did something wrong. We thought history would speak for itself, we thought maybe history will teach us and our children, but that was wrong. It’s sad but I thought that being a mass-murderer, a dictator, a war criminal, and a homewrecker of millions would buy one some bad reputation but I see it only helped people worshiping them.

I don’t know what should we do, I don’t have any idea how to stop this, i don’t know what am I supposed to do against this. I’m hopeless for the young generation.

Descriptive blogrolls

Many years ago, when we still had control over the web and giant corporation hadn’t still send it to hell, and there were no giant search engines for people to use, we had blogrolls. Blogrolls were sidebar links on our blogs with links to other blogs, usually our friends, which we recommended people to visit.

Sometimes we recommended a blog, sometimes we linked to an interesting post or project, sometimes we wanted to boost a project, but we always had something to recommend to our visitors.

These were carefully curated lists. We felt an obligation to recommend only good stuff. We felt a responsibility over the material we were recommending to other people. Blogrolls could be found on any blog you visited. We essentially built a network of blogs all linked to each other.

Then blogging platforms and programs became more advanced and we could create pages. We moved our sidebar links to special “links” pages and then blogroll ones. Blogroll pages used to contain links to other blogs and projects with small description or comment on each of them. Sometimes we collectively described them as good stuff.

I don’t know what happened to blogrolls after that. They started to fade away and disappear from blogs. Search engines became more advanced and people encouraged each other to use them more. Few remaining old-school blogs and networks kept their blogrolls but they became some kind of listed-only link pages. No description, no comment, no old-school stuff.

I, too, made these boring lists. Only listing names or projects. I even deleted my blogroll page for quite a time. Then I read Simone’s post. He was right. We should curate our blogroll pages in the old manner. We should care about what we post and publish or recommend to people.

Simone asked for context on blogroll pages. He wants to see:

  • Who is this person you’re linking?
  • Why are you following them?
  • What’s in their blog that caught your interest?

and he’s absolutely right. So I updated my blogroll page to do exactly this. I must describe what I’m recommending to people. This should be the default way of publishing blogrolls. Oh, and before that, we should have blogrolls. Old-school blogs baby, bring them back. Bring back the old blogs and the old way of blogging.

Jeremy Bearimy

This post may contain spoilers about “The Good Place” television series.

Things in the afterlife don’t happen while things are happening here because while time on Earth moves in a straight line, one thing happens and the next and the next, time in afterlife moves in a “Jeremy Bearimy.”

In the afterlife time doubles back and loops around and ends up looking something like Jeremy Bearimy. This is the timeline in the afterlife. Happens to kinda look like the name “Jeremy Bearimy” in cursive English, so that’s what we call it.

It means that something can happen before the stuff that happened before. Like future can be past, or the past can happen in future while it also happened in past after what has happened in future.

See the dot above the “I” in Bearimy? That’s Tuesdays, and also July, and sometimes it’s never. Occasionally that moment on the Bearimy timeline is the time-moment when nothing never occurs. If you don’t get it, don’t worry. The dot over the I broke Chidi.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, well, you probably haven’t watched the show The Good Place. Your loss. It’s hilarious, fun, clever, pleasant, thought provoking, and top-rated. I sometimes re-watch some episodes or review some parts.

Now what happened that I thought of this again? Specially the Jeremy Bearimy part? I was visiting Silvia Maggi’s web site and I saw her Jeremy Bearimy page. I immediately recognized the name, that’s why I clicked on it. In her words, the Jeremy Bearimy page is “where time flows differently. Past, present and future happen at the same time. There is no clear structure, and the rules are different.”

I thought it’s exactly like the blogosphere. While Silvia uses the page for CSS experiments and creativity, when we look at our blogs, we get the same feeling. I know I’m sounding weird and I probably make no sense to you but let me explain.

Sometimes I visit my favorite blogs and I read old posts. I read about their concerns at that time, I feel their excitement to announce something, and sometimes I try to imagine myself as a third-person thing when those stuff are happening. It’s like a time travel for me except that it’s already happened, while it is happening at the moment to me, and it will happen again in future if I want to. Kinda like Jeremy Bearimy.

Isn’t it awesome? I love blogging and reading blogs. I love indieweb and people who still are active in old-school communities. I love subscribing to your independent and self-owned blogs. It makes me feel alive, it makes me feel part of a community. When I receive an email from you about a post I published or shared, I truly, and genuinely, get happy and smile.

I sometimes read blog posts about an Apple event or WordPress release, or just some rants or emotional posts about difficulties in their lives and it fascinates me. Not just because they’re old posts but because I get to read them when I want. You can’t do that in social networks such as Twitter or (currently) Mastodon, they’re not designed for that.

But blogs are specially designed and created to have this ability. Most blogs are designed in a way to make oldest posts as easily accessible as the newest ones. It’s one of the basics of blogs and I’m glad it’s like this. I get to experience the past, I get to know about future, and I get everything live, right now, in the easiest way possible. It’s the Jeremy Bearimy, time in afterlife, but we get to experience it now; and that’s awesome.

Social networks addiction

It was when I quit social networks that I knew how they’re truly addicting. I felt something was missing from my life. I missed communicating with friends I made, I missed writing about whatever came to my mind, and I was opening the web sites randomly out of habit only to realize I no longer have anything there.

I signed up again a few times because I couldn’t tolerate the situation. I was too addicted to social networks to be able to function like a normal person. The addiction to constantly writing or reading about random things and being virtually and digitally social prevented me to do anything meaningful, like reading more books, long articles, or even get some shut-eye.

I was an addict. Just like a heroin addict, that can’t function normally in society, I was having problems in society. I couldn’t have a focused meaningful conversation with people, I couldn’t enjoy my environment, I couldn’t enjoy the company of people around me, and I was looking at a screen all the time, even though there was nothing for me there.

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Numa Numa

In December 2004, 19-year-old Gary Brolsma uploaded a webcam video titled “Numa Numa,” featuring himself lip-syncing to the Romanian song “Dragostea Din Tei” by O-Zone. Hosted initially on Newgrounds.com, Brolsma created the video after watching a cartoon about Japanese cats.

Even before the existence of YouTube, his video exploded one night after Newgrounds featured it on their front page. A couple days later, Brolsma woke up to find news vans from all the major networks parked outside his house, forcing him to explain his sudden Internet fame to his surprised mother.

A group of red arrows on a black surface photo. Each individual arrow is pointed to right, but they as a whole shape a big arrow that points to left.

Behavioral paradoxes!

I think it was first on Joe Rogan’s podcast that I heard someone saying “I don’t believe in ghosts but I would never spend a night in a haunted house” and that made a lot of sense! Me too, actually. I don’t believe in ghosts either but I’m still sometimes scared of ghosts or evil beings.

A month ago I watched the Nun II (2023) movie and later that night I felt scared. I knew there’s no nun waiting for me down the stairs in the kitchen but I still was somehow scared that there may be an evil being there waiting for me. I know that’s ridiculous but I felt it. That feeling was real for me. I even forgot about it the next morning but I know that fear was real.

When I heard the sentence (the one on Joe Rogan podcast), I came to realization that there’s a lot of behavioral paradoxes in our lives without we even noticing them. My fear of the nun was one example but there’s a lot more. For example, we know fast food is bad and it hurts us but we still eat them. We know cigarettes will cause cancer but we still smoke them. We’re afraid of roller coasters, that’s why it causes excitement in us, but we still ride them.

Isn’t that fascinating? We know, deep in our hearts, that something should not be done but against all of our instincts and understandings we do them. What makes us do this? I believe it’s because we enjoy the paradox and we enjoy the feeling of excitement we get from those activities.

Well some activities may not excite us. Smoking, for example, causes real damage on our neurons, that’s why it’s addictive, and we are somehow forced to do them more and more but one who spends a night in a haunted house is not an addict, well unless he does heroin in the house.

The hormones we get from these activities are so strong that we get eager to do them again. Eating at your favorite restaurant may not be an exciting activity but it certainly gives you a joy you don’t experience at other places. And we remember these joys and we repeat them so they become more and more strong.

I used to walk the rain and I always got sick afterwards but the joy I felt from those walks compelled me to do it again. I knew I most-probably will get sick again but I did it anyways. It felt good and I would do it again.

But how does it happen? I know about the hormones and stuff but how does it really happen when we know for a fact that something unpleasant will happen next? When a child decides to disobey parents, while knowing a punishment awaits, what forces him to do it? Why we can’t control ourselves to avoid these situations or practices?

Life would become joyless, robotic. “Equilibrium (2002)” is a movie that shows a world in which having feelings is forbidden, against the law. Even in that movie the main character does against the rules. What made him do this? If I could choose between a joyless yet perfect or an imperfect but joyful worlds, I would definitely choose a joyful world. A world full of excitement, ups and downs, even if it’s imperfect, is much more desirable.

One of my hobbies is to watch football, the real one not the American one. Persepolis and Iran national team play too bad and they are far below the standard. They’re not even average players yet they get paid thousands or millions of dollars to play. In an economy that most people are struggling to afford their basic needs, they get hundreds of thousands of dollars to play football so bad even their greatest fans boo them.

I’ve stopped caring for these football teams long ago and I wish them lose their matches every time, so maybe there will be some reform if they lose a lot. They get paid by the government. Meaning I,  a taxpayer, am paying for these terrible players. That’s one of the things that angers me. However, I still watch them. I follow the matches, I follow their news from time to time and sometimes I get excited when they score.

I even follow the rivals of my favorite teams. I get upset when they win and get happy when they lose. I joke around with fans of the rival team and sometimes discuss the matches, the referees, club situations, and trash-talk each other. Yet deep in my heart and mind I know I wouldn’t pay a dime to these teams. I’ll vote for destruction of these clubs for a penny.

This is one of the behavioral paradoxes I have in my life. Not harmful so much but not joyful either. What makes this happen? It’s one of those paradoxes I can’t understand. How can I hate something so much yet follow it and get excited from time to time? I don’t even forget that I don’t like them. I don’t like fish and I sometimes forget why I don’t like it until I taste it again so I can understand if I have fish for launch sometimes but I don’t understand following my rival teams matches and sometimes even cheer for them. When they score a beautiful goal, or sometimes when they win, I cheer for them. That’s the magic of football I guess.

Humans are full of these behavioral paradoxes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences these and I’m sure there’s a good scientific reason behind all of these. Our body secretes hormones and these affect our behavior, that’s normal, but it still fascinates me a lot. It still makes me wonder about life and our decisions and human willpower.

Clickbait, clickbait everywhere

I’ve been too annoyed with clickbait titles recently that I have stopped visiting certain web sites. Particularly, my favorite sports news web site is now blocked on my computers since they started using clickbait titles. Titles that are designer or written to force you to click on the article.

Titles such as “I’ll leave football” are appearing on that web site and they are specifically designed to make you interested or psychologically manipulate you to click on the link. That’s hurtful. That web site is full of this crap, some like “Qataris printed photo of this defender!” will make you enthusiastic about what is happening.

This should stop. i know it’s hard or even impossible to regulate the Web or force publications, specially digital ones, to follow any instruction regarding how they should write or title their work but we got to do something about this. It’s been annoying me so much and I know I’m not the only one.

The problem is that many of these web sites are monetized using advertisements and more clicks and traffic they get, more money they make. Authors are now forced by their employers to write articles that make visitors stay longer and surf more. That will get them money. More we visit their web sites, more personal data they collect from us. Our Internet behavior, our interests, how we use web sites, and many more identifying information about us can be collected when we surf a web site and spend enough time on them.

When I see a title like “promise that calmed down this coach”, I get interested to see what was that promise and why this coach wasn’t calm, and will be distracted from my original intention of visiting the web site, to get an specific score or watch specific video. At least that’s why I visit sports web sites.

The main problem is how we monetize or commercialize web sites. Our data is so valuable to them that they try anything to get them. For us, it’s a matter of privacy and human rights but for them it’s how they make money and get rich. They don’t care about how you feel or how much you value your human right of privacy. They lobby for more freedom to violate your rights and they even pay billions to smooth the way because they make billions more by selling your private information.

The clickbait matter is just a way to force you spend more time on their web sites and surf more and more you do that, more data they can collect about you and it’ll result in more accurate advertisements towards you which will happen when they have enough personal information of you that they can use to train their machines.

The web site owners may not realize that. Most of them are just simple people who found a way to make money by placing ads on their web sites but it doesn’t matter to users like me, it’ll result in same old privacy violations we’ve been facing for years.

I’ve blocked and disabled some web sites on my computers and I won’t visit them even if I type their address out of old habits. Less privacy violation is always a win. I encourage you to do the same with web sites you know.