Kevin J. Johnston Warns Us: “Masks Are Bullshit” Is Full of Shit

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Masks Are Bullshit

In covering the two introductions “Masks are Bullshit” has, is it any wonder that there is MORE front matter1? Kevin titles Chapter 1 “The Warning”, but the more I read through it, the more it reads like a half-assed attempt at a trigger warning combined with a thesis statement. I thought right-wingers were supposed to be against trigger warnings?


Seriously? Part 2 for the Introduction to Masks are Bullshit?

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Masks Are Bullshit

Last week, I made a poor choice in choosing to review “Masks are Bullshit” for my new segment about crazy books to get this blog going. I think I wrote nearly 5,000 words taking down his personal attacks and bullshit arguments in his book. However, we’re not quite done with the introductions yet, since Kevin wrote two separate introductions.


Reading Masks Are Bullshit: The Introductions, Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Masks Are Bullshit

So, I saw that Kevin J. Johnston was offering his e-book, Masks are Bullshit, for free on his website. It is full of his COVID denialist nonsense, hastily written to try to jump on the right-wing grifter gravy train that made a lot of hay out of demonizing measures to control the spread of COVID-19. And I’ve decided to start a new thing called my Crazy Book Club, where I write deep-dives of crazy books by right-wingers.


Expressing Yourself On the Web: Jekyll & Github Pages

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Expressing Yourself on the Web

Yesterday, in my series about expressing yourself on the web, I talked about Neocities and the expressing yourself in an old web way. Today, I’m going to write about using Jekyll & Github Pages to build a website.

What is Github Pages?

Github Pages is a service run by Github that allows users to launch web pages for free. It was launched to help open source projects have a place to communicate information about their projects.

Github has limited preprocessing. Namely, processing Markdown and Jekyll projects. Hence why I’m recommending Jekyll to go along with Github Pages.

What is Jekyll?

A screenshot of the homepage of Jekyll.

Jekyll is a ruby-based system to facilitate pre-processing static content written in Markdown. It allows you to use a command-line interface to compile a site into static content. Alternatively, you can use Github Pages to avoid the command-line interface and have Github compile the site for you.

If you have a Mac, you can install Jekyll pretty easily using the Terminal. And I’ll explain how.

What you’ll need to know to use Jekyll & GitHub Pages

Honestly, you’ll need the HTML & CSS knowledge I mentioned in the Neocities review, but with this, you’ll also need to understand concepts related to Git and some Ruby knowledge wouldn’t hurt. So, if Neocities seemed a bit challenging for you, I wouldn’t recommend this approach either.

How to install Jekyll on Mac and set up a website

First, go into the Applications folder. Then, go into the Utilities folder. There should be an app labelled “Terminal”. Open it. You’ll need to copy and paste the following command into your terminal:

gem install bundler jekyll

Then, once that command has finished running, you’ll need to navigate to where you want to install the Jekyll site. For example, if you want to put the folder in your Documents folder, you’ll need to run this command.

cd ~/Documents

Then, run the following command, changing the text in bold into the name you want to choose for a site. No, you can’t use spaces in this version of the name so don’t ask.

jekyll new my-awesome-site

There you go! You’ll have a new Jekyll site on your computer. All you’ll have to do is commit it to GitHub with every change. You could do so through the command line, but you can also use the GitHub Desktop app.

If you found this a bit too involved, the next option will probably be more your speed. If you found it too easy, then Thursday’s entry would probably make you happy.


Expressing Yourself on the Web: Neocities

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Expressing Yourself on the Web

In this week-long series on expressing yourself on the web, I want to talk about five separate services that allow you a platform you can use to express yourself on the web. Today, we’ll be talking about Neocities, a host of static HTML pages and popular with sites that use old-web tech.

What can you build on Neocities?

Honestly, if everything your website can do is done in the browser with no server processing, Neocities is okay for you. Though, you probably would need some knowledge of HTML and CSS. You can find free learning guides on Sadgrl’s website and Codeacademy. However, if you want a guided learning path, I’d recommend this track from Treehouse.

Put simply, if you used something like Geocities back in the day (think 1990s to early 2000s), this is the service for you.

If running WordPress is crossing your mind, Neocities is probably not for you. If you plan to use this to build a blog, don’t. Honestly, this service isn’t great for that. Also, any preprocessing is going to be out the door, so things like Markdown are not going to be interpreted into HTML for you.

Having said that, though, the wide variety of sites that exists on Neocities is something to behold. As someone who actually used the old web, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. Seeing all these websites use old web tech makes me irrationally happy. I, for one, would love to see more people building websites using this tech.

What would I recommend this service for?

Honestly, pages that you don’t intend to update often. Also, if you’re not uncomfortable with a text editor like Nova or VS Code. Alternatively, you can use some sort of WYSIWYG HTML generator.

On the one hand, it is a free service. However, on the other hand, you’ll have to work to publish anything here. So, this service is perfect for smaller websites where you don’t mind updating things manually.


How to Not Pay Outrageous UPS’ Brokerage Fees

So, I bought myself a Freewrite Hemmingway Special Edition Smart Typewriter a couple of weeks ago. And on Wednesday, the amount of the fees I had to pay were posted on UPS’ tracking site. In short, they wanted to charge me the GST due and owing, plus nearly $120 in brokerage fees. In no uncertain terms, this is highway robbery.

UP clearly showing me that they wanted to charge me nearly $120 in brokerage fees, which is nearly double the amount of GST they wanted to charge me. Oh, plus the GST, for a grand total of $180.

Needless to say, for something I paid $1,588 for (yes, I got the 2-year warranty too), I wasn’t thrilled about throwing down another $180. I recognize that I would have to pay GST and GST in Alberta is 5% with no PST. But, that doesn’t mean that I was okay with also adding an additional $120 on to that.

You don’t have to pay duties on purchases made in or from the US, but you do have to pay GST on those purchases. This is thanks to CUSMA (which replaced NAFTA).

How to avoid UPS’ Brokerage Fees

In order to do this, you’ll need to first call UPS to get a B-15 letter. UPS can e-mail this letter to you. It’s called that because you’ll need to go to the CBSA, pay the duties, and get one of these.

Form BSF715-1 from the Canada Border Services Agency

Basically, need to pay the taxes at a CBSA Inland office. An inland office is able to collect these duties and issue a receipt like the one above. This form used to be numbered B-15, but is now BSF715 or BSF715-1. In order to get it, you need a copy of the shipping bill that the person who sent you the stuff sent. It includes the price of the goods and is important to calculate taxes and duties.

At the Inland office, they’ll look at the invoice. They may ask you a couple of questions about the nature of the goods. I know that the officer had more than a couple questions about what a “Smart Keyboard” was. Once they make their assessment of how much duties are owing, you’ll go to the cashier. The office that I went to accepted credit and debit cards as payment, but I brought cash just in case. Once you pay, you’ll get that form I mentioned above.

Afterwards, you send this form to the addresses UPS told you. Keep the original copy to show the driver. A good app to take a picture of the

The Day Of

You’ll want to make sure you can receive your package. But thankfully, everything went smoothly. The UPS driver even commented that I knew exactly what I was doing. But now, I have my new gadget and I’m going to be spending my next couple weeks giving this thing a test drive.

So, in short, don’t pay UPS a shit load of money. Instead, go to the CBSA office (if you can), pay the taxes, and don’t pay UPS this insane cost. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to paying the shipping when I buy myself a new… writing chaise. But at least I know how to pay the duties myself the next time UPS has a delivery for me. And yes, sadly, Liberator uses UPS to ship orders. Needless to say, this is useful knowledge for me to handle a future order. And I hope this information is useful for you too.