WordPress Mu spammed, Chickenfoot to the rescue

I found out last night that I had forgotten to turn off new blog registration on my WordPress Mu instance and that over 500 spammers had created new blogs on my site.  The admin interface allows you to bulk delete blogs but requires that you check the checkbox next to each blog to select it for deletion.  This was getting pretty tedious.  Though I’m sure I could have delved into the internals of WordPress and figured out how to delete these blogs at the database level, this was a little scary and I didn’t really want to spend the time to do the research necessary to feel confident about this method.

So, I installed the Chickenfoot Firefox extension and wrote this simple script that would check every checkbox on the administration page.  This was made easy because of the fact that the only checkboxes on this particular page were ones associated with blogs that I wanted to delete.  This reduced the number of clicks to delete blogs significantly and it only took me a few minutes of manual clicking to delete the hundreds of spam blogs.

for (chk = find(new XPath("//input[@type='checkbox']")); chk.hasMatch; chk = chk.next) {

Photo by loveï½¥janine via Flickr.

(not) liking Stuff White People Like

Chiara pointed me at this great analysis (via the Feministing blog) of the Stuff White People Like blog:

For me, despite the humor (and yes, I see the humor and LMAO to different entries all the time) I don’t see how marrying the concept of white-ness to the concept of material is actually helping us get to a new place. And as a friend of mine pointed out, the opposite effect of this is that the underlying assumption of stuff white people like is that the stuff they like is not cool, so then is everything that people of color do totally cool? Does that mean that we should look to people of color for what is cool (insert “wow you are such a good dancer!”)? So in a way it is perpetuating that same thing we are trying to get away from. A hyper fascination with the things that white people like.

What sealed the deal for me was when I heard the author got a $300,000 dollar book deal. That is fucking crazy. If he had been a person of color he would have never gotten so much attention or such a hefty book deal. People would have said, omg, that is racist! They wouldn’t have given it so much cred. My point being, there are a lot of people that call out racism and whiteness, but they don’t get huge book deals for it because they are not white. So despite the potential transformative nature of calling out whiteness for what it is, the author is still getting rewarded for being white, even though he is making fun of white people. And let’s not forget, white people also get paid for making fun of people of color. And what exactly do people of color get paid to do. . . ? To also make fun of people of color or to create characters that fit into white people’s comfort levels of what is acceptable people of colorness. Because as the blog points out subtly, white people have the most capital to be the biggest consumers of everything, so all the images we see are tailored to their sensibilities.

This may be a total stretch, but this is where I am at with the whole thing and just had to put it out there. I see how many people LOVE this blog and how many people of color love it. And I see how uncomfortable it makes white people, which I also think is good. Being uncomfortable can often motivate you to think outside yourself. But is it really leading to this transformative conversation for a racially just world or is it perpetuating our assumed differences, realigning them with a gaze on what is considered white?

Stuff White People Like blog and thinking about whiteness in general

A blog parodying the “park slope parent” (public radio listeners, and myself too), Stuff White People Like is really interesting because I think it frames the activities that me and a lot of my friends enjoy, not just as our choices but as part of cultural forces of which race is a component.  As one caller on the NPR call-in show where I found out about this blog noted, this blog helps expose white privilege because it examines the activities of a subset of white culture from a more removed perspective and a critical one, even if that criticism is tempered by humor.  The blog creator pointed out that, whites often criticize or satirize the culture of whites who live in rural areas, have less money, or education, but that middle-class whites, and especially hip middle-class white culture is not framed as grounds for satire.

I think it’s pretty jolting to look at this blog, because even though I’m not entirely white, and feel like that identity doesn’t adequately encompass some of my experiences, so much of the things listed as likes on the blog are incredibly familiar.

What was pretty interesting was the connection this blog makes to electoral politics and that the blog’s brand of White People like to support Barack Obama.

Link to Stuff White People Like blog
Link to NPR’s Talk of the Nation interview with the blog’s creator

Chris Soghoian Interview

My started a blog which comments on a recent local radio interview with computer researcher Chris Soghoian.

WFHB describes the interview this way:

Does the government’s “no-fly” list make air travel any safer? Do other supposed “security measures” really protect us from terrorists? Host Chad Carrothers spends an hour with Chris Soghoian, the Bloomington grad student who drew national attention when he set up a website that allowed visitors to print fake Northwest Airlines boarding passes in an effort to expose flaws in national security policy. The federal Transportation Security Administration forced him to take down the page and the FBI raided his Bloomington home and “borrowed” his computers and passport. Find out why Chris did what he did, his views on the role that researchers, academics, and common citizens take in studying, criticizing and pointing out the flaws in our security systems, and why he thinks the federal government hasn’t learned the intended lesson in this WFHB local radio exclusive.

I thought the WFHB interview was a disappointing though, becuase even if the way the U.S. views security is fundamentally flawed, and we aren’t made more safe, Chris still invests himself, both in terms of the time and energy of his research, and in terms of belief in the narrative of security. Fundamentally, this narrative of security suggests that there is an amorphous human threat set on harming and amorphous sense of “us”, and that we can do something to protect “ourselves” from it.  The thing that is troubling about this narrative of security is that it never fully aknowledges that the threats we perceive are from other humans, nor does it seek to understand those who we perceive as threatening in a way that is more complex (or even compassionate) than stereotypes or prejudices.  Stepping outside of that narrative, I find that the prospect of violence is still troubling, but that the motivations for violence can be quite rational and mirror motivations or violence that follows from my life, or its cultural context.  So, trying to protect myself from harm seems pretty futile, either personally, in belief in the idea of security, or through the proxy of goverment in waging wars or making policy decisions about airline regulations.  It seems far more likely that some kind of harm, either physical or psychological, will follow from these actions than some kind of harm will befall me as a result of a terrorist attack.  I hope that we can live our lives in a way that seeks to understand others, and seeks to change the relationship between people, or nation-states, or cultures that make violence and retaliation seem almost rational.

Tor, which is discussed at the end of the interview, is pretty awesome, however, at least from a technological standpoint.  It’s software that is fairly easy to use that allows you to anonymize your web (and other Internet) traffic. Still, I don’t want to get caught up in thinking of this cat and mouse game between government and individuals, repression and privacy.  I’d like to think that I’m accountable for the communication that I make and consume and that if I’m targetted for that, I can address it headlong and get support from my friends and community rather than having to hide things that are totally reasonable.