“Going too fast” landed me in Facebook Jail


Update from October 22, 2019: I have identified the problem as a browser extension, which I was using to block Facebook ads, but which also has a “who unFriended me?” function. To find out who has unFriended me, it looks at my past and current Friend lists then checks if each absent person is still active on Facebook. This means … checking other people’s Facebook profiles rapidly. You know … going too fast. 

My speculations were wrong and my pleas were ineffective. It was (in my case) the Social Fixer browser extension that put me into Facebook Jail, not anything I was doing. I subsequently disabled that part of the Social Fixer browser extension, because I don’t mind if people unFriend me, and I don’t feel the need to know when they do. 


Lord Algorithm is displeased with me. I’ve been in Facebook jail for a week now.

Facebook jail is a penalty when a user has violated the Facebook Community Standards, e.g., posting nudity, sexually suggestive content, hate speech, threats, violence, or spam, or creating fake accounts. (What’s the penalty for failure to use the Oxford comma, I want to know??)

For more than a week now, Facebook has Temporarily Blocked me, for the violation of “going too fast.” I had been involved in a lively back-and-forth with a couple of other commenters on an advice columnist’s page, where many regulars discuss the advice of the day. We were all ripping along merrily as usual, when I got this “temporary block” notice. I had no clue how upset the great Lord Algorithm would become. (Hear ye my plea, oh elegant and fair Algorithm of All Facebook, be merciful and just to me, a pitiful end-user … )

One savvy friend explained the judgment of Lord Algorithm thus, “Technically, you tripped a comment flooding trigger. Which is bogus, since each comment was an original statement, so therefore not flooding.”

In the latest edition of Facebook, there’s no individual recourse; I send reports, and they send back stock messages saying they’ll use my feedback to improve Facebook. The face of Lord Algorithm has turned against me, and my earnest petitions are answered with boilerplate platitudes.


Facebook Temporary Block April 2019 crop

In my case, they’ve apparently flagged me as a spammer, though it’s also remotely possible that some mischief-maker took exception to my opinion on the topic of the day and reported a comment as offensive. Facebook didn’t remove my posts, though; they just restricted my access to that particular advice page. Oh, and they also barred me from visiting other individual’s pages, including those of my family and Facebook Friends, and I can’t use Messenger to send new messages.

Back in the day, people could email Facebook, plead their case, and get a personal response, but that no longer appears to be true. I keep filing reports and getting stock responses sent back to my Support Inbox. And that’s it.

When I dug into the specifics of “going too fast,” I eventually discovered: sorry, Charlie, that’s all we’re going to say on that matter. They’re shielding Lord Algorithm, of course, our capricious, unapproachable, unknowable deity. If His minions told me what I had done, and how to avoid doing it in the future, real spammers could use the information to defy Lord Algorithm.

The Facebook Help pages say that a person might have violated the Community Standards even if they believe what they did was OK. This puts the blame back onto me — rather than onto the capricious whim of Lord Algorithm — for violating standards of online behavior that they refuse to disclose (other than “going too fast”).

I’ve lost the rather naive faith I had that Facebook would be fair, reasonable, or even reachable. I have angered Lord Algorithm, and thus I must wait for the Lord in his wisdom to take impersonal mercy upon me at some as-yet-undetermined point. I also humbly admit that I’ve assumed there must be valid reasons for arbitrary consequences, and that if people would behave, they wouldn’t get in these pickles. But I did behave, and I’m still in the pickle.

I’m not benefitting from glib advice to “use this as a time to practice equanimity; don’t care; go do something else; wait it out; stop whinging.” If anyone has practical suggestions on what I could try next to fix the problem, though, please let me know in the comments, because this situation is causing me undue grief — just as Lord Algorithm intended. 

How Did That Signed Book Get Into My Local Bookstore?

An entertaining YouTube video shows a breathless girl who happened to find a signed John Green book on a bookstore remainder table (in 2008, so don’t hold your breath). Did John Green stroll into this bookstore to sign that book, she wondered?

I work for a bookstore, and this can happen after an author has a signing at a bookstore, when the author will sign a few extra copies at the end of their event to stay in the store’s stock. If the signed extra copies don’t sell over the next few months (because it’s his first novel, and nobody realizes this random author is going to turn into THE John Green), the bookstore returns the books back to their distributor (aka wholesaler) for credit. Those books sit at the book distributor’s warehouse until the next bookstore orders them. Looking for Alaska HC 1st ed

If that doesn’t happen, the book distributor will eventually return the unsold books back up the chain to the publisher.

Publishers periodically clear their shelves of old stock, selling batches of outdated, overstocked editions to bookstores. Bookstores buy these “obsolete” editions for pennies on the dollar and price them accordingly for their remainder tables. (Often these will be hardcover copies, shortly after the paperback has been released and the buying public wants the cheaper paperback edition.)

That why you’ll sometimes see a hardcover for $7.98 on a bookstore sale table, shortly after the $15 paperback edition has been released; the publisher sold off the old hardcovers to bookstores at a discount. If those hardcover copies happened to be sent back to the publisher from an author signing in another bookstore, far far away, they may eventually end up on a bookstore remainder table near you.

And that’s how, with a combination of persistence and luck, you may find a legitimately signed copy on your local bookstore’s remainder tables. If you do, congratulations, and may you squeal with joy like YouTube’s lunalovegoodismyhero.

Amazon hides “all reviewers”


Amazon.com has changed how shoppers see product reviews written by other customers. It now shows “verified purchase only” reviews written by customers who bought their item directly from Amazon. Reviews from “all reviewers,” on the other hand, are now visible only if you can navigate to a page that lets you sort and filter reviews.

The new policy is Amazon’s attempt to shut down the paid “review mills” that churn out boilerplate 5-star reviews. But the policy also affects long-time reviewers such as myself; I still want my reviews to be visible on Amazon — because everybody relies on Amazon’s reviews — even when I didn’t send my local dollars away to an online vendor.

Amazon is also limiting customers to 5 reviews a week for items purchased elsewhere. The new restrictions will no doubt reduce the number of fake reviews, but they also benefit Amazon by prioritizing purchases made directly from their website, and hiding all the thoughtful, detailed, honest reviews from people who just want to share their experience of the same product purchased elsewhere.

To display the hidden reviews, start at a product’s main page. Click the number that follows the “star” rating;  on the next display page, click that number again, then under “Filter by,” click “All reviewers.” See what I mean about “hidden” reviews?


And, oddly, the review limitation doesn’t apply to books, music, or video, or reviews from Amazon’s own Vine reviewer program, wherein merchants send free products to a select group of reviewers, but under Amazon’s control.

More info from Geekwire here:

Remarks by President Trump at National Prayer Breakfast

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 02, 2017
Remarks by President Trump at National Prayer Breakfast

Washington Hilton

9:11 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mark. So nice. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. It’s a great honor to be here this morning. And so many faith leaders — very, very important people to me — from across our magnificent nation, and so many leaders from all across the globe.

Today we continue a tradition begun by President Eisenhower some 64 years ago. This gathering is a testament to the power of faith, and is one of the great customs of our nation, and I hope to be here seven more times with you. (Laughter and applause.)

I want very much to thank our co-chairs, Senator Bowzman and Senator Coons, and all of the congressional leadership — they’re all over the place. We have a lot of very distinguished guests.

And we have one guest who was just sworn in last night — Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State. (Applause.) Going to do a great job. Some people didn’t like Rex because he actually got along with leaders of the world. I said, no, you have to understand, that’s a good thing. (Laughter.) That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. He’s respected all over the world, and I think he’s going to go down as one of our great, great secretaries. We appreciate it. Thank you, thank you, Rex. (Applause.)

Thank you as well to Senate Chaplain Barry Black for his moving words. And I don’t know, Chaplain, whether or not that’s an appointed position. Is that an appointed position? I don’t even know if you’re a Democrat or if you’re a Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year — the hell with it. (Laughter and applause.) And I think it’s not even my appointment, it’s the Senate’s appointment, but we’ll talk to them. Your son is here. Your job is very, very secure, okay? (Laughter.) Thank you, Barry. Appreciate it very much.

I also want to thank my great friends, though, Roma. Where’s Roma? Beautiful Roma Downey. The voice of an angel. She’s got the voice — every time I hear it, that voice is so beautiful. Everything is so beautiful about Roma, including her husband because he’s a special, special friend, Mark Burnett — for the wonderful introduction. So true. So true. I said to the agent, I’m sorry. The only thing more — I actually got on the phone and fired him myself because he said, you don’t want to do it, it’ll never work, it’ll never, ever work. You don’t want to do it. I said, listen — but I really fired him after it became the number-one show. It became so successful, and he wanted a commission, and he didn’t want to do it. That’s what I really said. (Laughter.)

But we had tremendous success on “The Apprentice.” And when I ran for President, I had to leave the show. That’s when I knew for sure I was doing it. And they hired a big, big movie star — Arnold Schwarzenegger -– to take my place. And we know how that turned out. (Laughter.) The ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster. And Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings, okay? (Laughter.)

But we’ve had an amazing life together, the last 14, 15 years. And an outstanding man, and thank you very much for introducing me. Appreciate it. It’s a great honor. (Applause.)

I also want to thank my dear friend, Vice President Mike Pence, who has been incredible. (Applause.) And incredible wife, Karen. And every time I was in a little trouble with something, where they were questioning me, they’d say, but he picked Mike Pence — (laughter) — so he has to know what he’s doing. And it’s true, he’s been — you know, on the scale of 0 to 10, I rate him a 12, okay? So I want to thank you. Thank you very much. Apprentice it. (Applause.)

But most importantly today, I want to thank the American people. Your faith and prayers have sustained me and inspired me through some very, very tough times. All around America, I have met amazing people whose words of worship and encouragement have been a constant source of strength. What I hear most often as I travel the country are five words that never, ever fail to touch my heart. That’s: “I am praying for you.” I hear it so often — “I am praying for you, Mr. President.” (Applause.)

No one has inspired me more in my travels than the families of the United States military, men and women who have put their lives on the line every day for their country and their countrymen. I just came back yesterday from Dover Air Force Base to join the family of Chief William “Ryan” Owens, as America’s fallen hero was returned home. Very, very sad, but very, very beautiful. Very, very beautiful. His family was there. Incredible family, loved him so much. So devastated — he was so devastated. But the ceremony was amazing. He died in defense of our nation. He gave his life in defense of our people. Our debt to him and our debt to his family is eternal and everlasting.

“Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.” We will never forget the men and women who wear the uniform, believe me. (Applause.) Thank you. From generation to generation, their vigilance has kept our liberty alive. Our freedom is won by their sacrifice, and our security has been earned with their sweat and blood and tears. God has blessed this land to give us such incredible heroes and patriots. They are very, very special, and we are going to take care of them. (Applause.)

Our soldiers understand that what matters is not party or ideology or creed, but the bonds of loyalty that link us all together as one. America is a nation of believers. In towns all across our land, it’s plain to see what we easily forget — so easily we forget this — that the quality of our lives is not defined by our material success, but by our spiritual success. I will tell you that. And I tell you that from somebody that has had material success and knows tremendous numbers of people with great material success — the most material success. Many of those people are very, very miserable, unhappy people. And I know a lot of people without that, but they have great families, they have great faith. They don’t have money — at least not nearly to the extent — and they’re happy. Those to me are the successful people, I have to tell you. (Applause.)

I was blessed to be raised in a churched home. My mother and father taught me that to whom much is given much is expected. I was sworn in on the very bible from which my mother would teach us as young children. And that faith lives on in my heart every single day.

The people in this room come from many, many backgrounds. You represent so many religions and so many views. But we are all united by our faith in our Creator and our firm knowledge that we are all equal in His eyes. We are not just flesh and bone and blood. We are human beings, with souls. Our Republic was formed on the basis that freedom is not a gift from government, but that freedom is a gift from God. (Applause.)

It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty.” Jefferson asked, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of, and totally destroy, the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that — remember. (Applause.)

Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us, and the world is under serious, serious threat in so many different ways. And I’ve never seen it so much and so openly as since I took the position of President. The world is in trouble, but we’re going to straighten it out. Okay? That’s what I do. I fix things. We’re going to straighten it out. (Applause.) Believe me. When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it. (Laughter.) They’re tough. We have to be tough. It’s time we’re going to be a little tough, folks. We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore. It’s not going to happen anymore.

We have seen unimaginable violence carried out in the name of religion. Acts of wanton slaughter against religious minorities. Horrors on a scale that defy description. Terrorism is a fundamental threat to religious freedom. It must be stopped, and it will be stopped. It may not be pretty for a little while. It will be stopped. (Applause.)

We have seen — and, by the way, General, as you know, James “Mad Dog” — I shouldn’t say it in this room — Mattis. Now, there’s a reason they call him “Mad Dog Mattis” — he never lost a battle. Always wins them and always wins them fast. He’s our new Secretary of Defense who will be working with Rex. He’s right now in South Korea, going to Japan, going to some other spots. And I’ll tell you what, I’ve gotten to know him really well. He’s the real deal. We have somebody who’s the real deal working for us, and that’s what we need. So, you watch. You just watch. (Applause.) Things will be different.

We have seen peace-loving Muslims brutalized, victimized, murdered and oppressed by ISIS killers. We have seen threats of extermination against the Jewish people. We have seen a campaign of ISIS and genocide against Christians, where they cut off heads. Not since the Middle Ages have we seen that. We haven’t seen that, the cutting off of heads. Now they cut off their heads, they drown people in steel cages. Haven’t seen this — I haven’t seen this. Nobody has seen this for many, many years.

All nations have a moral obligation to speak out against such violence. All nations have a duty to work together to confront it and to confront it viciously, if we have to. So I want to express clearly today to the American people that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land. America must forever remain a tolerant society where all faiths are respected, and where all of our citizens can feel safe and secure. We have to feel safe and secure.

In recent days, we have begun to take necessary action to achieve that goal. Our nation has the most generous immigration system in the world. But these are those and there are those that would exploit that generosity to undermine the values that we hold so dear. We need security. There are those who would seek to enter our country for the purpose of spreading violence or oppressing other people based upon their faith or their lifestyle. Not right. We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation. You look all over the world and you see what’s happening.

So in the coming days, we will develop a system to help ensure that those admitted into our country fully embrace our values of religious and personal liberty, and that they reject any form of oppression and discrimination. We want people to come into our nation, but we want people to love us and to love our values — not to hate us and to hate our values. We will be a safe country. We will be a free country. And we will be a country where all citizens can practice their beliefs without fear of hostility or fear of violence. America will flourish as long as our liberty and, in particular, our religious liberty is allowed to flourish. (Applause.)

America will succeed as long as our most vulnerable citizens — and we have some that are so vulnerable — have a path to success. And America will thrive as long as we continue to have faith in each other and faith in God. (Applause.)

That faith in God has inspired men and women to sacrifice for the needy, to deploy to wars overseas, and to lock arms at home, to ensure equal rights for every man, woman and child in our land. It’s that faith that sent the pilgrims across the oceans, the pioneers across the plains, and the young people all across America to chase their dreams. They are chasing their dreams. We are going to bring those dreams back. As long as we have God, we are never, ever alone. Whether it’s the soldier on the night watch or the single parent on the night shift, God will always give us solace and strength and comfort.

We need to carry on and to keep carrying on. For us here in Washington, we must never, ever stop asking God for the wisdom to serve the public according to his will. That’s why — (applause) — thank you. That’s why President Eisenhower and Senator Carlson had the wisdom to gather together 64 years ago to begin this truly great tradition. But that’s not all they did together. Let me tell you the rest of the story. Just one year later, Senator Carlson was among the members of Congress to send to the President’s desk a joint resolution that added “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance. That’s a great thing. (Applause.) Because that’s what we are and that is what we will always be, and that is what our people want: one beautiful nation, under God.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

9:30 A.M. EST

Elvis Costello at the LBC

Santa Rosa, California, was the first stop on Elvis Costello’s “Detour” tour, with Larkin Poe opening — the two harmonizing Lovell rock sisters Megan (slide guitar) and Rebecca (mandolin) — who joined Elvis on the numerous encores. These women have charisma and musical chops of their own, as evidenced during their opening, and showcased as they backed up Elvis himself.

As music lovers came into the reclaimed Luther Burbank Center for the Arts (thanks to the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, who have so wisely used their re-naming rights), we were treated to a giant TV screen on the stage, running old Elvis Costello MTV videos.

Then, during Elvis’ show, that TV screen showed an ongoing slide show, variously with historical photos, an old movie still, or poetic quotes, which would then fall apart with letters scattering. (Someone called out, “Turn off the TV!” and Elvis shrugged and said “You came here to get AWAY from the TV. But there won’t be any fucking CNN or FOX News on this TV.”)

The TV screen provided the high-stimulation environment people expect from current entertainment, but it punctured the illusion that the anecdotes were spontaneous, since Elvis would start a story after a photo of the subject had already displayed — and he had his back to the screen. That’s the kind of thing you don’t want your audience to catch you at — we like to fantasize that the performer is doing all this just for us, not promiscuously for all audiences throughout the tour.

My highlights: solo Elvis playing over his own sampled bass riffs on “Watching the Detectives,” the trio on “Love Field,” and Elvis’s encore from inside the TV set with “Alison” and “Pump It Up.” I remember other shows like this (from Lucinda Williams, and Rodney Crowell, for instance), where they would play as long as the audience was still responding, so treat encores as indicators of audience interest, and show your appreciation.

My favorite song of the night, though, was “Shipbuilding,” which he performed at a grand piano, and which was deep with the pathos of the hopes of the blue-collar worker, those who understand that jobs come at the cost of the lives of their own boys in war.

Elvis Costello still has the vocal chops to sing solo for more than two hours, punctuated by stories, though the rocky first half-hour played like an opening act for his own show. Still, this is a big, grand, generous show that will only tighten and improve with time — and what a thrill to be part of its development.