"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Dr. King, Alcatraz, and Civil Disobedience

At the remove of decades, and felt through the thick rubbery buffer of my white male privilege, what I admire most about Dr. King is the soaring power of his oratory.

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Weekly Exercise - New Clues, Solidarity w/Paris, Code Withdrawal

As per the previous post, I want to "get back on that bloggy horse". For now I'm going to try honoring that by publishing something every week. At the moment my head is all over the place, so it's kind of a bit of a roundup of a few disparate topics.

  1. The throwback energy of "New Clues"
  2. Responses to responses to the Charlie Hedbo attack
  3. Coping with coder withdrawal

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Getting Back On The Bloggy Horse

It's been a long time since I've blogged personally or prolifically. In 2015 I'd like to turn that trend around — for the same reasons I want to get to the gym more: it's healthy.

I don't really believe in resolutions, but as an arbitrary time to mark a change, the new year is as good as any. So let's begin with a little intro/retrospection — confronting some of the anxieties that I think have kept my production down.

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Thoughts on the DriesNote: Towards Drupal "Contribution Credits"

UPDATE: putting theory into practice, I'm now hiring someone at Pantheon to contribute full time.

Two weeks ago at DrupalCon Amsterdam, Dries Buytaert gave his traditional State of Drupal, or "Driesnote", presentation, outlining his thoughts on scaling open source communities. I thought it was one of his best presentations to-date: addressing a pressing concern within the community with both a philosophical outlook and some specific proposals to start a wider discussion. It's a pressing topic, and I wanted to add my own two cents before my thoughts became too stale.

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Nostalgia from New England

I've been in Western Mass for the weekend attending NERDS, the New England Regional Developer Summit, one of the many lovely gatherings of internet-makers I get to attend as part of my career. The event itself was great (I'll probably blog about it at work), but being back in a part of the world I haven't visited in 17 years prompted some heady nostalgia. Navel-gaze alert: here it comes.

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World Mind vs AI and Big Brother

People's versions of the Apocalypse are particular to their culture. When I lived in rebel Humboldt County, it was all about the red dawn, visions of economic and/or ecological collapse, etc. Down in Silicon Valley, you get a lot more people talking about a technocalypse, some variation on Singularity theory, concern that AI will undo us all. Additionally, the recent revelations of the NSA's vast surveillance programs have cast a shadow over the optimistic vibe that comes long with a growing internet.

In this post, I want to talk about why I believe humanity will likely not be overmatched by machines, with bonus observations on how digital democracy can still thrive in an era of Big Data Big Brother.

Moore's Law Has Been Broken For About Ten Years

There is no good account of how "powerful" the human mind is as an information processing system. There are random-ass guesses from futurists and AI researchers, but nobody really knows what the capabilities are for the mind to run, let alone how to compare it to silicon based computers. That said, the random-ass guesses generally conclude that it will take a lot of CPU power to model a brain. Like, more than all the computing power that exists in the world today.

No big deal, say the preachers of AI - computing power is growing ever more rapidly, because Moore's law, etc. But that's not actually true. Moore's "law" was more of a smart observation: that circuit density was doubling about every 18 months. However, this hasn't been true for a while — Moore's law is collapsing, because of the physical limits of silicon.

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All The Blogs I Want To Write

Oh man. I'm home sick for the first time in a long time, and being stuck on my back with only a few phone calls to occupy my time has left my mind a-wandering. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling well so actually writing anything substantial feels like too tall an order, but there are so many things I wish I could write. A short list follows.

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What Is To Be Done?

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Gentrification, which received quite a few thoughtful responses. Thanks to everyone for those. I really appreciate the stimulation.

So far I've ducked the question of right and wrong. My mode was one of reflection on my experience of living in places that are changing, being a part of that change. However, the themes of development and displacement have a moral dimension. People naturally go right to this; so why fight it? Let's get into it!

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Notes on Gentrification

Earlier this month the Vara — the building where my wife and I currently live — attracted some protesters, anarcho kids decrying the police presence and influx of new money. I missed out on the action as I was away on honeymoon, but it got me thinking.

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Elizabeth Warren vs Hillary Clinton in 2016?

An interesting piece by Noam Scheiber in TNR about a potential challenge to Hillary Clinton by Elizabeth Warren for the democratic nomination in 2016. He's absolutely right that "inevitable candidates have a way of becoming 'evitable'", and in drawing deja-vu parallels around Clinton's potential mis-alignment with the base (if not the nation in toto) over how to handle inequality and the finance sector vis-a-vis her positions on national security (esp Iraq) in 2008. It's an interesting read.

He also does a good job of describing how Warren wields her influence, by being willing to violate some of the social norms of Capital Hill in very public settings, for instance asking regulators "when was the last time you took a bank who broke the law to trial?" (to which they had no answer). I am a fan of Warren's rhetoric and style, and pedigree as an antagonist of the neoliberal establishment.

Still, I'm skeptical that Warren will make the run, but Scheiber makes a compelling case that she's motivated enough by her belief in economic policy and what it means for working families that she'd do it even as a long shot. He notes:

Of course, any prediction of a populist revolt against the party’s top brass must grapple with the tendency of such predictions to be wrong. From the Howard Dean campaign in 2004 to the Occupy Movement in 2011, the last decade in Democratic politics has been rife with heady declarations of grassroots rebellion, only to see the insiders assert control each time. Even the one insurgency that did succeed, the Obama campaign, was quickly absorbed into the party establishment, from which Obama was never so far removed in the first place.

But concludes with a quote from an insider:

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