Making Unconscious Rules Conscious

Every couple days I visit How (Un)Popular is the President? by FiveThirtyEight to see what the polls show. And every day I am amazed that it doesn't change. I've read the articles that say 42% is still a historic low, but knowing that the family separation policy was widely known in mid-June and seeing the support number stay the same and then improve is discouraging.

When I look at the demographics of that 42%—they look a lot like me. I've been trying to understand why I have a strong negative reaction to what I see while people who are similar to me do not.

I tried to write down a list of rules that are constantly running in my brain that help me understand the world. As stimulus from the outside world comes in, I filter it through some process and then make decisions about how to react. This process has built up over time based on my experience and I don't even think about how it works anymore—it's just who I am. I gave each rule a one-word alias so they would be easier for me to remember and spot them as they're working.
  • All humans are real, complex people who experience love and have hopes & dreams. (Respect)
  • Not all sources of information are alike. Journalists are a better source of information than companies, governments, or peers even though these will be better sources for specific information at times. (Discern)
  • Learn from diverse sources past and present; nuance exists and expanding your vocabulary can help you express and comprehend complex ideas. (Read)
  • Our systems of governing and commerce are currently unfair with winners and losers. Zero sum competition is the business environment but not the entire human experience. Someone else's success does not diminish you. (Balance)
  • Use power available to you to make the unfair world more fair for everyone. Help people in a weaker position. Vote every time. Frame issues when you talk about them. (Participate)
  • Trust your own mind and observations and continually work to improve them. Skepticism of authorities is healthy. (Question)
  • It is good to care about people and things you love and believe in. (Care)
  • Make friends both online & off but spend more time with people in physical space. Listen carefully. (Connect)
  • Doing things a different way from the majority is ok. Understand why things are popular but don’t feel compelled to follow. (Diverge)
  • Think about how things you say and make could be interpreted and used in different contexts and change if it makes the world less fair. (Imagine)
  • Wild, undeveloped spaces in our physical world are a source of inspiration so spend time there if you can. (Restore)
I don't perfectly execute these unconscious rules everyday, but my theory is that they're a core part of how I process the world. I'm sure there are rules that I'm not aware of yet. I can't wave a magic wand and know what rules guide other people, but maybe trying to make my own rules conscious will help me understand how I'm processing the world.

Twitter Breakup

Jerry Seinfeld had a funny line on his show about how breaking up is like knocking over a coke machine:

That's how I feel about Twitter right now. Even though I swore off Twitter in January I've found myself back in the daily grind there. Despite uninstalling the app on my phone and hacking my hosts file, I still end up back. Twitter and I have had some great times over 11 years and five months! It's not easy to give that up. I found my current job via Twitter, I hear stories from people I would never have met, I keep up with friends, I get industry news, and there are always great jokes.

But Twitter also has a problem with toxic speech that they refuse to address. That is the dealbreaker for me. That's the poop in the pool. Here's a sampling of recent decisive leadership from Twitter:

I also found myself identifying with Matt's My own reasons for leaving Twitter. I too feel that addictive pull all. the. time.

So this movement to deactivate accounts on Friday is just the kick in the butt I need to remind myself to make conscious choices about the places I patronize.

I will genuinely miss the fun parts of Twitter but I don't want to be part of a platform that hosts hate speech. The US government tolerates hate speech because it places a high value on free speech. I understand the trade-off there but Twitter is not the US government. There are plenty of places to publish online. Twitter is more like the host of a big party. And if the host of the party doesn't kick out nazis when they show up it's time to knock over the coke machine for good. (I'm definitely mixing metaphors here but the point is that I don't feel comfortable spending time and attention there anymore.) Twitter, I know it's a cliché but: it's not me—it's you.

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Canal Creek

Various Hyperlinks

Here are a couple summaries of the latest Mueller investigation indictments: @Baratunde reads through and Lawfare summarises.

These new developments make this article seem less like speculation and maybe it's time to speculate about How Life is Going to Change.

PSA: Remember Stylish the browser plugin that you might have installed that lets you change the look and feel of pages you visit? It's bad now. I exported my styles, uninstalled Stylish, and then imported them to Stylus. That should work until Stylus sells out.

No, YOU need this amazing retro keyboard based on a Hermes Rocket typewriter—not me. I don't have a keyboard problem.

I'm late on this one, but if you have any interest at all in Dungeons & Dragons you should hear Dinah explain it to Matt on his podcast Hobby Horse: Dinah Sanders rolls for initiative. She is the best ambassador I've heard yet for tabletop role playing and her joy is infectious. Go listen!

Also thought this was like something out of a D&D plot: How we discovered three poisonous books in our university library.
mountain bluebird yellow headed blackbird
yellowstone birds
great fountain geyeser bacteria mat life among bacteria
yellowstone life
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bryce layers
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marvelous canyon
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zion wall
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forum statues
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disc golf drive

Father's Day Links

I'm trying to take some time to think about what it means to be a father today. Whatever your relationship is with that aspect of humanity—I hope you'll also take some time to think about it in the context of current events. I'm tired of the tone policing, edge casing, whataboutism, and just asking questions around this topic. The subject is basic human decency.

I'm going to be rereading this article about Mr. Rogers several times today: Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children.
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chicken
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rotunda
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Prairie Schooner
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kind of blue
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backyard creatures

Link Carousel

Thanks for joining me as I clear out my saved links. It is time for week-old links to enter the carousel...

Recommend Me A Book is a fun site. It shows the text from the first page of a book and you can reveal the title and author after you read. I had fun trying to guess the book as I read.

I also had fun this week playing with random text engine Perchance. You give it some base text, a few simple rules, and you get a random text generator. I made one that predicts what's coming next in technology: next gen. (e.g. "hyperlocal ocelot conferencing" is the sort of thing this would generate.) Looking at the generators community page I see there are lot of people using it for D&D so I predict that I will be back in the future to make more.

I'm still on my mechanical keyboard bs. Massdrop is a site that organizes group buys of keyboards and keycaps. They have a good overview of why some people get into them: Mechanical Keyboards 101. I don't buy keyboards anymore though, I just read Massdrop for the articles.

The worst aspects of web culture were on display this week in Kathy Griffen's Standing up to Trump and Erin Biba's What It’s Like When Elon Musk’s Twitter Mob Comes After You. These are a good lesson in punching up/down and a reminder that this behavior isn't inevitable. The people who own and control the spaces where we interact online (hi, Twitter!) can stop this.

Zeldman on modern web development: The Cult of the Complex. I was nodding along with this, especially: "The question for web designers should never be how complex can we make it. But that’s what it has become." I don't think people consciously try to make development processes complex, but they end up that way through decisions by folks who aren't thinking about projects past their next deadline. Sean Kelly posted a thread on Twitter about what he looks for in a software engineer that seems related to me.

One of the reasons I went with a Logan's Run reference up top is because I just finished watching the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. I'm pretty sure the Logan's Run designers were inspired by 70s commune fashion. This documentary uses a lot of TV video footage from the time paired with beautiful modern cinematography. It gave me a lot to think about—I'm going to be processing this one for a while.

Also processing: this Twitter thread by Erynn Brook on mansplaining and different conversational styles. (Continuing wish: less Twitter as a platform for these kinds of conversations and more personal blogs.)

We don't deserve it, but there's a new Neko Case album!

Renew, renew!
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still life

Controlled Link Burn

The underbrush of my link ecosystem has become so wild and thorny with hrefs that it's time to break out the blogging driptorch and burn them all so the mighty oaks of thought can live free once more.

Last week Andy Baio broke the Twitter time continuum with a well-crafted Twitter search that shows activity from the people you follow from 10 years ago. Reading a 2008 feed made me think about text vs. media embeds and I enjoyed the discussions about tweeting in the modern world. Someone put together a handy page of Twitter time-traveling links if you'd like to try it out.

Jessamyn West is fighting the good fight against Equifax by suing them in small claims court over their data breach. A week or so ago she went to court: Equifax Statement for Small Claims Court. Be sure to read the the follow-up tweets at the end of the article about how it went. Equifax probably won't pay a meaningful price for their recklessness with our data, but I'm glad Jessamyn is trying.

How is the smart speaker craze going? Vox epxlains How an Amazon Echo ended up recording and sharing a private conversation. I think it was @sudama who suggested calling them smart microphones instead so we remember data flows both ways.

I spent way too much time having fun at WASD Keyboards customizing keycap colors. I don't really need another mechanical keyboard. I don't really need another mechanical keyboard. I don't really need another mechanical keyboard.

This is some digital spycraft wizardry: Glyph Perturbation, The Science of Font Steganography. By imperceptably changing how fonts are displayed, you can embed encrypted messages within innocuous carrier text.

This was a good reminder for me to make time for reading with my kids: What's Going On In Your Child's Brain When You Read Them A Story?.

I recently started playing electric guitar again for the first time in *cough*+ years and that opened a whole new world of YouTube tutorial videos I wasn't aware of before. I'm here to recommend Paul Davids and fun videos like his 10 Extremely Tasty Licks.

The link thicket is light on web developer help this time around, but this 2014 article about How to Write a Git Commit Message is still great. My favorite tip is Use imperitive statements as the subject line. I always try to do this and I think it gives commit messages a timeless quality—like you're explaining to someone mid-process how to recreate your steps.

With my weekly URLs now ablaze, the only thing left to do is fire up Portland Cello Project playing Paranoid Android (a good version finally online!) as background music while I watch my reading list disappear.
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sunday disc