As of 2 hours ago, it has been 3 years since Rowan was born into my hands (unplanned homebirth, I can tell you the story later).
He's been the best thing in my life since then.
He's strong willed, opinionated, and best of all, loving. He truly loves everyone and wants everyone to be happy.
I love you, too, Rowan.
The Art of Community Deception
I realized last night that I'm always at a disadvantage in Open Source and Free Software politics for one simple reason: I refuse to lie. The best politicians out there are stone-cold liars: they can weave a tale with beauty and grace. They lie so well, that they believe their own lies, and then they almost aren't really lies at all.
When I was a child, like most children, I tried lying a few times to cover up a mistake. Of course, adults can always tell when children are lying (since kids are so bad at it), but children don't know that. I remember from the age of six or seven years old that I was convinced lying, as a social manipulation, didn't actually work. I really believed that everyone knew when everyone else was lying.
This became a kid logic phenomenon for me: it was not until I was in my teens that I realized lying was a skill that one could practice and perfect. By that point, I was a decade behind everyone else in practice. (I don't think I even tried to tell a lie between the ages of seven and seventeen.) So, my belief became reality: everyone can tell when I'm lying!
Now, to be abundantly clear, I am talking about boldface lies: stating something as a fact that one knows to be certainly untrue. I admit that I am capable of lies of omission, and of the garden-variety, (mostly) benign deception: artfully avoiding specific topics and questions.
But, I just don't have the boldfaced lie in my political arsenal. I haughtily consider myself a better person because of it, but it'd be a lie of omission if I didn't admit I'm at a constant political disadvantage because of it.
BTW, I suspect I can anticipate the next question from people who know me well: "But aren't you a good poker player?" you might ask. "Doesn't that require lying (i.e., bluffing)?" you'll say.
The fact about bluffing in poker is that it's nothing like telling a lie. Bluffing is more akin to walking down the street in a dangerous neighborhood with a gait that communicates you have no fear when in fact you're terrified. While the betting in poker has its own language, it's entirely non-verbal. You don't have say out loud: "I have a hand that beats yours, you should fold."
Occasionally, when playing poker against a rank amateur they'll call a bluff and ask "how could you bet there?" The answer is simple of course, "I bet because I thought you would fold". In essence, betting with a worse hand is unrelated to a representation of your own holding in poker, but is instead related to the perceived weakness your opponent feels about their own holding.
Indeed, for years, I refused to use the word "bluff" when talking about poker. The idea of bluffing, in the common parlance, is not something I conceptualized as an action I was taking. This was a self-deception strategy to exude that confidence walking down the dangerous street. I'd say in my head: "This bet is the right play", and think that same thought whether I was betting the "nuts" (the best possible hand) or two napkins (a hand that will certainly lose).
Anyway, I didn't mean to turn that into a rant about poker, my point on that was merely to say that bluffing in poker isn't lying, so it's unrelated to my primary point about being unable to lie.
I wonder sometimes whether others think in detail about when they lie and why. In my experience, when I do catch people in lies, it's usually a lie made flippantly to cover embarrassment. I suspect that's a statistical bias based on those lies being the most poorly conceived and executed. The whoppers that good politicians tell are surely carefully constructed and calculated (and thus less discoverable), so I only find them when I know facts (that they don't realize I know) which contradict the lie. The latter happens rarely.
While I err on the side of frank truth spoken to everyone, I realize the value in the social convention of withholding frankness to spare people's feelings. But, calculated lies designed to manipulate harm society. I suspect that most people don't think much about how often people in power are telling such lies, and why. Indeed, I feel quite alone just thinking about the issue. I'm thus curious and would appreciate comments: has anyone reading this ever thought this deeply about this question?Show all 9 repliesMy wife thinks everybody lies all the time, especially in business.
"Don't trust that, he's lying."
"That's ridiculous, why would he do that? It doesn't even make any rational sense for him to lie about that. There's no benefit, and it would kill his credibility if he got caught."
"Anyway, he's lying."
- I've wanted to write up a blog post about #xoxofest, so I'm going to try to collect my thoughts here.
I went to XOXO in 2013 on the "Festival" pass, which gives you access to the parties but not the talks during the day. I didn't like it; among other things, the Festival pass was only given to people who weren't accepted for the main pass. It felt like a big "SECOND RATER" sticker, which made me feel pretty bad, and made me think darkly competitive thoughts about the other people who were given conference badges. ("What's that guy done? I'm way more interesting than him! And her? She hasn't done anything!") It's a bad headspace to be in.
So I was glad to see that there were more badges available overall this year and that the "festival" badges were optional rather than given as consolation prizes. I got a conference badge (maybe not all the attendees are happy about this, now that I think of it), and I was really looking forward to it, since people had been so enthusiastic about the talks in 2013.
Like last year, I collected the Twitter handles of people I know who are going to attend, and contacted them directly. I invited people to come meet me for pre-event beers -- both XOXO attendees and just friends from Portland -- as a way to make sure I spent some time with everyone I wanted to see. I got ~15 people together, which I'll say is a grand success. I'm going to try this trick again in the future; it can be really hard engineering 1-on-1 get-togethers with people.
The event itself was great. The talks were as good as I had heard, maybe more so. There was a definite tendency to go deep into personal territory in the talks -- Kevin Kelly, Justin Hall, Gina Trapani, Paul Ford all dug into their personal lives to give real meaning to the work they were describing on stage. I think, also, that the speakers really respected the audience -- these were their peers and they wanted to provide good value. It really showed.
But a lot of the value of XOXO is in the interstitials. There are a lot of breaks and a long lunch during the day, and I got to spend time with some pretty great people that I don't always get to see -- Kevin Marks, Alex Payne, and Blaine Cook stand out.
There's also a collegial atmosphere that makes it feel really OK to approach strangers and talk to them about their work. I found myself falling into heavy conversations with people I hadn't met before -- intoxicated by the air of passionate interest and self-investigation that the conference generated.
The night events were excellent. I watched some of my favourite podcasts recorded live, and I got to play some pretty excellent games (including a little too much of Two Rooms and Boom). The two Andys that organize the conference do a good job highlighting Portland's great culinary and drinks scene, so there is a lot of great food and drink during the conference.
There are a few things that I'd change if I could. The event is so well-planned that it doesn't leave a ton of room for spontaneous participation by the attendees. There's nothing stopping you, but there's also not a lot of room to bring your own art or robots or games or whatever. It's just not part of the culture. I don't think that's wrong, per se, but it's a notable difference from other events I went to this summer (YXYY and Burning Man).
Another is that there's not a clear year-round place on-line for XOXOers to congregate or organize other meetings. I think the community is largely coalesced around the #xoxofest hashtag on Twitter, which is great, but it's a pretty tenuous link, without much private space to, say, invite XOXOers to your house for dinner.
Finally, the two organizers, Andy Baio and Andy McMillan, are pretty far stretched. Their personal touch is what gives the conference its warm feel, but they clearly are running way over their manufacturer's recommended parameters. I hope they're able to scale the event to keep themselves from burning out without losing their important personal connection. It's going to be a real tight-rope walk for them.
I guess there are two main things that I worry about for XOXO. The first is community-oriented: the danger of groupthink. If you talk to people who attend, they'll tell you that the event is inspiring, the people are great, the whole experience is life-changing. When I hear this over and over, from the same people, it throws up a red flag for me. There's a danger, when we're telling each other this, of reconfirming each other and not paying attention to details. I think there's some value in keeping a sober and critical eye on the event and not snowjobbing ourselves. (I don't see any glaring issues right now, but I see the danger of not seeing them.)
The second is more personal. The theme of XOXO is independents building great stuff with the Internet. I found the chance to think more about, and talk about, my next project, really worthwhile. But I also wonder if hearing great talks about inspiring projects can actually keep you from building new stuff. Like, hearing about brave efforts gives you a sense of second-hand bravery and accomplishment, which satisfies your desire for personal action.
As of right now, I don't think that's a big problem, but I've made a mental note to check next year how many of the projects I heard about actually get made. I had a great dinner with Crystal Beasley and Mike Caprio on the night I left, and we all talked about our inspiration and plans for new projects. Having an on-line place to stay in touch might help people keep the torch going until they finish what they've started.
Most of all, though, I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be there. I caught Andy McMillan backstage at one point, and gave him a handshake and a hug and a thank you. He said, "I'm glad you stopped me; we do this all for you." We'd never met before, but everything they do for this conference really does make me feel like it's a personal gift to me, and it's what makes it a special event.
Mike Linksvayer shared this.There are a lot of things I didn't get into this blog post that I wish I had.
- I was pretty touched that the organizers dedicated the event (with a shot of whiskey) to Chloe Weill, a member of the community who committed suicide earlier this year. I've been really concerned about the danger of depression and suicide to the worldwide community of hackers and makers and it was good to have it addressed in such a visible way.
- There was something a little unsettling about the venue the event was held in -- a closed-down steel mill. It felt funny to be in a place where real stuff was really made at one point, talking about making virtual objects like games and software and e-books. Maybe like children playing in their parents' closet, but not quite as optimistically. And, with few exceptions, the attendees weren't children.
ostfriesenmärz likes this.Great write up. Thank you for sharing it. I also worry about the following, and I don't think you even need to attend cool conferences for it to happen:
"But I also wonder if hearing great talks about inspiring projects can actually keep you from building new stuff. Like, hearing about brave efforts gives you a sense of second-hand bravery and accomplishment, which satisfies your desire for personal action."
The Scottish Independance Referendum results are in. They voted No! Let's crack open the Irn Bru to celebrate!
mcnalu likes this.The electorate were scared just enough to make sure they voted the right way. An important aspect of the poll was how the vote was largely split allong affluence lines, we are heading in britain for the sort of viciously divided society they have in USIA which will require ever more repression. Again, our politicians have forgotten the lessons of the 19th century crazy wealth dispasrity and no social security leads to non incremental change
Luke likes this.The affluence / class aspect of the vote was definitely there, yeah. For myself it was frustrating that valid, more important issues, like the Bedroom Tax and other social security attacks were set aside / subsumed by "Vote yes for red unicorns" from people I know who really should know better. It'll be interesting to see how the anticapitalist left reacts. I'm hoping the links made and lessons learned are applied to useful campaigns.
Luke likes this.
Why The Kallithea Project Exists
Richard Fontana shared this.
- I'm taking a much needed break from reality for the next few days.
If you need to reach me send a telegram to me:
c/o Lord Emsworth
PS - code here at parlementum.net is up to date as of now.
Bragging RightsI've read the entirety of Moby-Dick & War and Peace (and loved them), I've seen all of Shakespeare's plays performed live (including Henry VIII & The Two Noble Kinsmen), followed on Twitter by the Oxford English Dictionary and Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Naoki Hiroshima: I've got @n on identi.ca waiting for you. Email me at evan -at- e14n.com .
There you go again … (GPL Violation Reporting Angst)
Here we go again. I really wish people would read and grok what I said about reporting GPL violations more than fifty months ago.That's actually quite tame and at least somewhat reasoned :) Teehee, Did you know there are people going around saying the FSF is hypocritical and that any software licensed GFDL is non-free/a violation because they assert documentation is software and invariant sections (ignoring of course they're optional) are contrary to the GPL. I'm not kidding :)
- Colocated Raspberry Pi Computers
I think I'd love this. Maybe I would use it to host a single-user XMPP service. Or replace the VPN service I use with one hosted on the RPi.
GCC, LLVM, Copyleft, Companies, and Non-Profits@bkuhn Very interesting blog post.
The part about the GCC RTL exception is of particular personal interest for me since I was still at SFLC during the early stages, though it was not too long before I left SFLC to join Red Hat. Of all my 'late', post-GPLv3 SFLC work the GCC RTL exception was probably my favorite and I suppose I wish I could have stayed to work with you and Karen on the completion of the drafting.
I hadn't known you'd've preferred to see the GCC RTL exception done and released in time to go with GPLv3. It might have been a better idea to do that. The only thing I can say in the other direction is that the GCC RTL exception (the early versions that I was helping you with) benefited from the experience of drafting GPLv3, AGPLv3 and LGPLv3. I think I remember telling you at some point 'this is the first draft of GPLv4'. Which in retrospect may have been a silly thing to say but it captured something of what I was thinking at the time.
Finally, I found it disturbing to hear you say that "a prominent corporate lawyer with an interest in LLVM told me to my face that his company would continue spreading false rumors that I'd use LLVM's membership in Conservancy to push the LLVM developers toward copyleft".
I may never have been paid a higher compliment.I am described on a friend's blogroll as:
Cultural Investigator. Country Gentleman. Scholar. Bibliophile. Future Cygniculturist. Devotee of excruciatingly obscure open-source arcana...
As for Cygniculturist, I think it means I'll raise swans.
- I always miss my grandma around this time of the year. Her house was always full of homemade food & treats. I'm making one of her dinners tonight: ham, potatoes & gravy, green beans.
Though the gravy might have been from a mix, and the beans from a can what I remember most about her cooking was all the love she poured into it.
- «We can't imagine a more hostile reaction to the wave of privacy concerns sweeping the world right now than debuting a proprietary, network-accessible fingerprint scanner as your new 'feature'»
http://www.fsf.org/news/free-software-foundation-statement-on-new-iphone-models-from-appleShow all 9 repliesFingerprint scanning technology on their phones seems great to Apple buyers now -- until it gets cracked and sold to the highest bidder or worse used by governments for whatever they want. It's a technology begging to be abused.
I know most govts already have most of our fingerprints but it also exposes people who have reasons to be anonymous (dissidents, whistleblowers, witnesses, minors, etc.).