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The image that appears at the top of the article Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Ferguson on Center Stage broke me:

howardUferguson

I live in a country that not only has systemic bias built into its structure, but also systematically takes away life and freedom from black men.

I don’t know how to fight racism, it intersects with so many other issues. But I do know that we need to stop incarcerating people at the level that we do, and we need to demilitarize police forces. Those are two areas that have a tremendous amount of research and methods already developed, but lack the political will.

Change will come, but I don’t want more people to gunned down to get the privileged to pay attention.

I often wonder if I would have joined John Brown‘s raid, or if I would have ridden on a bus to an American South that terrorized Black folks. I want to think I would, but I have a family with a child, and I am not sure if I could overcome the fear of losing them. But such thought exercises are ended in the relief that I don’t have to make a difficult decision, because the terror of oppression is over for minorities.

But it isn’t, and my heart is broken because we have people dying, not on a different continent across a large body of water on the other side of the planet, but here, right here in our communities. And for no reason besides our privilege and lack of will.

Fuck.

For Gautham

August 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

swingline-ny

For Gautham. Imagine Frank Sinatra singing it. ^_^

Taking a break from normal work, and instead gonna put together a site to help my brain function. I’ve been developing an internal taxonomy for what my personal desires are, but even though I initially called them buckets, I don’t want to have a site called my “bucket list“, so I am going with channels, instead.

The basic concept is that I have an feeds (ideas, cultural artifacts [like movies and music, or the written word], trends, conversations, etc.), an inbox (my brain), and various outputs (blog posts, servers, networks, games, worlds, commentary, podcasts, tasks, archives, tucked away text files, etc.). Also, some of those outputs become feeds immediately.

This conceptual model is not unlike how I read aggregated feeds on the web, where I collect and then process them. Right now I use a tablet for this, where I pull in feeds, either read them or save them for later, and then put aside a dedicated time to figure out what I want to do with them, such as sharing, responding, or documenting somewhere.

The concept of a bucket comes from how I parse worlds, which I break down into component parts and then reassemble into other worlds. This is the basis of my paracosm. The bucket part is that to talk about a world I feel I need a high-level overview of it, but the building blocks alone don’t give me enough to go on. So each potential world is a bucket, and when it gets filled, I can look inside and see what it is. Not sure which came first, but at this point in my life, my process for world-building and my process for problem-solving are neatly merged (which is why I encourage people to role-play, since it is an activity made of various helpful skills).

Anyhow, the project for this weekend is to build a prototype website that helps me organize these channels. I plan to use WordPress + Pods to build related items, so I can output useful views to both see what I’ve done, but also to check off a list and say, “hey, this thing is deconstructed and documented, I can let it go and think about something else.”

Hypermetawebcrafting. ^_^

I get email from a company called Aeria Games every so often, probably because I played Battlefield Heroes years ago (I guess they run it, now). Anyhow, I don’t want them to send me mail, so I click the opt-out link, but it never works. To contact them, I have to fill out a long form, but I don’t like doing that on my tablet, where I read my mail in the morning.

Finally got around to it, and upon submitting the message, I got following response:

aeria-games

Access denied.

Your message has been sent. You can track our correspondences by using the ticket number 12375165.

You are not authorized to access this page.

I’d send them a message about it, but they make that really hard. No free drive-by consulting for them!

mayday-superpac-banner

I’ve been getting messages from Lessig and team at Mayday PAC. Where most campaigns would be sending me spam, they are dropping transparency in my inbox, and I dig it. The latest one was about them finding a way to speed up the process by which they can release donor information of contributors over $200. To help speed one a tiny faction of that, I’d like to publicize that I gave Mayday PAC $500. I did not set a preference for Democrat or Replubican candidates.

I waited until the last moment to contribute, and I was worried they might not hit their goal, which I thought was a good idea, so I gave the most I felt I could afford. Any progress towards Mayday’s goals is better for us. I didn’t give a party preference for a couple of reasons. First, I am registered in the Green Party. Secondly, I am represented by Barbara Lee, who more or less has a great record that aligns with my beliefs. She is a Democrat, and I have a substantial preference towards that party (I am convinced that the Republican party has a systemic issue with the information age, and will slowly bleed out their power, hence why their crazy is so pronounced) but the issue that Mayday is trying to fix isn’t limited to just one party. If everyone in Congress is entrenched in a culture of finance focus, then they all need to go, regardless of record. That may sound radical, but so does the policies that same Congress produces, which negatively affects the entire planet.

I am glad the Mayday folks are working so hard, and I hope they provide a model for other orgs in various industries. I’m always fairly busy, but I am going to put in the effort and document for my own reference the work Mayday PAC is doing.

When you look at the digital commerce options for bitcoin, players such as Coinbase and Bitpay stick out. They have tens of thousands of merchants signed up, including some poster-companies like Newegg and Overstock.

That’s all fine and good, but where is the self-hosted merchant tools? What if I don’t want to deal with a corporation, which will eventually hit the lowest common denominator that is PayPal?

I had been encouraged by an early site that sold music tracks by creating a special URL that unlocked the download link when payment had reached a particular address (I can’t recall the site, but a sketchier version is at coinDL). The software wasn’t free, but I figured it would only be a matter of time. But I’ve yet to see any software promoted for this purpose.

How cool will it be to purchase goods with the ease of physical cash, through a website, without any other entity participating in the transaction? What options do we have right now?

I don’t feel like a “real” developer. Ever. But I am super jazzed that I just made a commit and closed a task, on two different secure sites that I host.

Accomplishing this with a beginner’s mind is euphoric. ^_^

Guild

June 30, 2014 — Leave a comment

This is the first in a series of posts explaining some decisions I am making. I hope they will serve as reference and discussion starters. It is kinda scary doing this stuff on my own, so advice is appreciated.

The big headliner is: I am starting a non-profit project called the Webcraft Guild.

To ease into the documentation, I will explain why I chose the term “guild” (future posts will have info about the why, when and how).

The reason I want to start this way is because historically guilds have been pretty sucky. While there was sharing inside a given trade or craft, guilds were known to horde their secrets, and had their governments enact ludicrous laws to ensure they stayed relevant. My favorite story, because it is so outlandish, is about protectionist practices against cloth buttons:

Shortly after the matter of cloth weaving has been disposed of, the button makers guild raises a cry of outrage; the tailors are beginning to make buttons out of cloth, an unheard-of thing. The government, indignant that an innovation should threaten a settled industry, imposes a fine on the cloth-button makers. But the wardens of the button guild are not yet satisfied. They demand the right to search people’s homes and wardrobes and fine and even arrest them on the streets if they are seen wearing these subversive goods.

In the case it is not obvious, I do not wish to create a totalitarian web. Quite the opposite, I wish to discover, document and encourage the best practices or a free and open web. And I play video games.

Video game guilds are super-cool! They get guild halls, and shared storage, and badges for achievements. They are like real-life guilds in name only, but I like the appropriation of the term to mean a group of folks with a shared interest.

And despite their shortcomings, guilds were useful for their particular trades and crafts. The idea of a journeyer, one that spreads the memes of their craft, resonates with me. I am self-taught, in that I didn’t receive a formal education in webcraft, but without the countless resources, tutorials, frameworks and general openness of the web, I wouldn’t know anything.

I chose to create a guild because I wanted to make something that I would want to be part of, something safe and inviting to folks, so they can be supported and encouraged in their own webcraft path. And that is the Webcraft Guild.

Methods

June 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

I have two methods of existence that are at odds with each other. The method in which I am highly skilled involves using a variety of stimuli to avoid feeling deep emotions. While I don’t particularly abuse substances (my caffeine addiction is probably more mellow than that of the general population), I do tend to overwhelm myself with a series of passions and causes, contributing to my contrary nature and making my outsider status ever more concrete. Having a good memory helps, because I can always call up facts to support my lifestyle; human history is full of examples that justify not being successful at being normal.

That’s fine, I am always kinda aware of my personality, and in recent years it has really worked out for me, probably because I care less about what people think of me, and that tends to inform what people think of me.

The other method is a drive to alleviate uncertainty and insecurity from every vector of my life possible, so my progeny may flourish in the hypothetical world that was better than the one I grew up in. Things like having a living income and food security, those things mean a lot to me as a parent, and I am a parent before anything else, because as I said, I can call up facts of history quite easily, and since I don’t beat people, abuse drugs, or have difficulty with incarceration, parenting is really the only thing left to argue about with the voices of my parents that reside in my head.

Pain compensation vs. security seeking. Completely at odds in my heart.

So the obvious thing to me is to continue seeking the most engaging lifestyle for my family, and just deal with the shit that comes spewing from my heart. But it is hard when I want to cry every time Clover randomly catches my eye and smiles, or runs to my side when a loud sound invades from the outside, or enjoys the healthy food Susan makes for em. My instinct is to throw myself into a wall of activity, or to lash out at memories that seem to fade more and more each year. But I don’t want to do that anymore. So I am being still.

In moments of stillness, I feel the energy in me in a counter-spin to the non-maiki existence outside. The fabric of my being feels fragile, like any amount of force will cause the whole cloth of my body to be shredded by these two maelstroms slamming into each other. But no force is to be had. Because while it is painful and harrowing and occupying and exhausting, I am the world, and there isn’t any force, internal or out.

So I go back to chopping wood and carrying water. And finding a therapist (and watching movies alone, so I can cry is a dark room amongst strangers).

Phabricator

June 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

I heard about Phabricator from Greg, in reference to the WMF collapsing a bunch of other tools into this one omni-developer app. I’ve been struggling to figure out what I am doing with my repo hosting, so it was neat to hear a large org moving to something that is free software and self-hosted.

I’ve spent about a week with it, and I’ve been up and down, most so than with any other software I’ve ever used. I didn’t quite understand why I was hung on this software so much, but for the last few days it has been all I can think about. I am starting to break it down, now.

First thing: I wish I had found Phabricator when I was first starting out, maybe back in the cog motive days. It does a lot of stuff really great, and outside of an org that does shared development, it has some great features for single freelancers, like the simple interface for creating and signing contracts.

It bums me out that it doesn’t hit all my needs, but it did make me reassess what my needs were. The git hosting doesn’t come close to Gitorious or GitLab, but those are specialized apps, and they only have light issue-tracking on top of it. I am actually quite fond of the tasks in Phabricator, but tracking issues around code outside the repo is not what I’m looking for.

Basically, I want Phabricator to scale! I want big, huge, public instances of it, but that isn’t the tool they made, though it can organize large groups of folks. I think it is the perfect tool for WMF, which will have a relatively narrow focus. I want a single todo list, and I won’t be able to get it from Phabricator.

However, my own personal work is taking me in interesting directions lately, where I am focusing on fewer clients, but larger projects. I can already think of 2.5 new instances that I should be running, and they do not overlap. And for other projects, I think I have some WordPress plugins that make more sense, since they are less technical in detail, and allow for a conversation to develop with folks that may not want an account to a complete organization system.