How do we write now?

You are completely at its mercy and it is your kingdom. The apples are all the things you have ever compared to apples. The stars are all the ways you have tried to describe the stars. Paradise is not just the day when the poem pours down like Niagara with the hottest couple in the world kissing steamily behind it, it is also the day that you spend changing the word A to THE and back again. That concentration is reverence. You are passing the beads of things through your fingertips and your head is bowed and your mouth is moving and the preexisting rhythm has found its place in you.

I’m not saying you’re lucky to be there. I’m saying as long as you live there you are in opposition to the powers that rule the world. You are the opposite of money. You are against presidents, oil spills, slaughterhouses, Young Sheldon. You’re the opposite of the red button under Matt Lauer’s desk. You’re the opposite of the red button that ends it all. You have never been so hard in your own name. Nobody has you.

Patricia Lockwood reminds me that the world still is, that llamas matter, that the place where I burn is always open.

I wanted to quote pretty much all of this, but I thought I’d focus on the promise, the target we forget to aim at. You are the opposite of money. You have never been so hard in your own name.

God damn.

Papa said drinking was for nighttime and for fools

The boy couldn’t ask Grandfather, either, for Grandfather was off again, into the snowy woods, to sing and to dance under the trees and wear beech leaves in his hair till the policeman brought him back: “Keep old Crazy Anders at home, please.”

—Jane Yolen, “Andersen’s Witch”

Just figured out what kind of granddad I want to be

An Executive Summary of the Last Fifteen Years

There was me before there was we.

Me had plans and big ideas. But me was a fiction. Me was quaint. Me took up the room.

I wish I could have explained what happened to me. I would have told me about we. I would have said that we have a strong back. We laugh. We are a shelter, a thick pair of socks. We actually exist.

"You aren't real," I would have told me. "I know you think you are. I know you think you're important. And I want you to feel the full, pressing weight of my love for you when I tell you that you are, at best, a scarecrow. But you will be more. When you are we."

But I know how well me would have listened.

For a time I resented the loss of me. It took time and your patience (you have more than you think, I am proof of this) for me to see what what the hole left by me, the hole that was me, would be filled with.

I did not understand that me did not die, that me never lived. Me merely wanted. But we do not want, not often. We live. We reach.

I started dreaming again this year. I hadn't much for, god, a decade? But I started again. Next to you. While we lumbered our sheets into knots and snored our way to the baby's milk breath of waking. I started to dream of mundane and silly things, and I clutch it now, terrified that I will lose it again. Like I could have lost we. But we were too strong for that, weren't we.

Me sometimes cries out to be allowed back home. Me howls like a tattered haint. Me doesn't understand that there is no home for a ghost, that ghosts have no eyes, that I will suffer no living thing to be haunted by me.

Cutting me loose to drift left scars behind, most of which you patiently hacked into me. I owe you a lifetime for that loving violence. Because now me is you is we is us is everything.

Sometimes I don't know whether to weep or sing or kneel or grab you hard. But then I let my hands go slack and I think:

Look what we did.

How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

Cambridge Analytica got shit tons of data that helped the Trump campaign by gaming Facebook.

People are going to call this a “hack” or an “exploit”. It was not. It was unethical harvesting, but it was using a system that Facebook set up as a key part of their core business model. From Daring Fireball, where I saw it linked first:

This was not a security breach. This is simply what Facebook is: a massive surveillance machine.

Between this and their profiting off of Russian trolls and misinformation that they pointedly did not ask questions about, it’s clear that Facebook is a big part of the reason why a probable felon who sexually assaults women and doesn’t have the attention span to read a two-page brief is President of the United States of America.

The 21st century definition of irony: Political outrage posted to Facebook or Twitter.

Update: Facebook fixed the problem by banning the whistleblower. Letting these people install software on your phone sounds like a good idea.

More updates: Even better! Their chief information security officer left over a dispute about this kind of thing. Includes a shocking revelation that security concerns on this issue were overridden by money concerns. And Zuck knew about the Russian accounts when he dismissed the idea publicly:

By November 2016, the team had uncovered evidence that Russian operatives had aggressively pushed DNC leaks and propaganda on Facebook. That same month, Mr. Zuckerberg publicly dismissed the notion that fake news influenced the 2016 election, calling it a “pretty crazy idea.”

Show me your heart

When Violet woke, she could hardly move. The ground beneath her feet was uncannily warm, as was the breeze blowing into her face. Her right arm hurt to bend, and her eyes were swollen shut.

“What’s happened?” she said to no one in particular, noticing with some distaste that the breeze blowing at her smelled uncannily like sulfur.


—Kelly Barnhill, Iron Hearted Violet

...and Peggy [thhbbpppt]

Weird Al has managed to simultaneously hit a very specific intersection of my interests while creating the perfect musical representation of what it sounds like inside an ADHD-addled brain.

Design’s Lost Generation

There are two words every designer needs to feel comfortable saying: “no” and “why.” Those words are the foundation of what we do. They’re the foundation of building an ethical framework. If we cannot ask why we lose the ability to judge whether the work we’re doing is ethical. If we cannot say no we lose the ability to stand and fight. We lose the ability to help shape the thing we’re responsible for shaping....

We are gatekeepers, and we vote on what makes it through the gate with our labor and our counsel. We are responsible for what makes it through that gate, and out into the world. What passes through carries our seal of approval. It carries our name. We are the defense against monsters. Sure, everyone remembers the monster, but they call it by his maker’s name. And the worst of what we create will outlive us....

We’re killing people. And the only no I hear from the design community is about the need for licensing. If why and no are at the center of who we are, and they must be, the center has not held.

Mike Monteiro is my profession’s John the Baptist. He says “designers”, but that means developers and engineers too. He means me.

There was one time early in my career when I was handed a software project that could potentially protect people from injury or even save their lives. It sounds great, right?

But the context was about cutting the lag time for calling off a repo agent if the owner of the car he was going after was armed and desperate. And actually it wasn't even about that. That was an ancillary benefit to the real purpose: repossessing cars more efficiently.

Now we've got a whole mess to unpack. Poverty. The tight link in nearly all of the U.S. between losing a car and financial ruin. The ethics of lending and borrowing. Guns. Not all of that was on me, of course, but it cast a pallor over that project. It weighed. It makes me queasy to remember it.

When I went back to school for my computer science degree, I was told I was "lucky" that I got to skip Computer Ethics because I have a philosophy degree. What those students did not want to hear was that I was lucky, because I had at least a dozen credit hours of ethics classes underpinning my choices, not just one course half-heartedly PowerPointed at me by an engineer from Acxiom.

That education has made it hard for me to do my job sometimes. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I should leave my profession entirely. I’ve had meetings and seen project plans that made me despair for the world I’m going to leave my children. And that’s happened at jobs I liked.

We are gatekeepers. We decide what you can see and what you can do about it and where the walls are built. We choose what is shared and what is safe. We dangle the shiny things.

I've decided to stop feeling embarrassed for being so strident about Facebook and Twitter and metadata gathering and identity and white-male-viable software, because fuck your lack of concern. My profession will only care when you start screaming and throwing things at us. We control your future. We control what you think. And you need to start asking who the fuck we are and what we want.

You had one job.


This is the man who broke Black Panther’s perfect Rotten Tomatoes score. That’s a shame.

You might think it weird that a person who gets paid to have opinions about art would gig a movie for an insufficient number of jumpings and beatings, but I draw strange comfort from knowing that such unique musings came from a man named Ed Power.

By their fruits you shall etc

Checker at Lowe’s: “That’s a sweet dog you have. Is he a terrier?”

Me: “Yeah, we think he’s some kind of ter—“

Jack: “He’s a Bearded Orwellian Snatchhound.”

The lies I tell my children may be catching up to me.

The magic wanted to be used.

"Wolf," Áine said.

The wolf whined and dropped the rope over the edge.

"If this is just a ruse to make sure you can eat me later, "Ned heard Áine say, "I will never forgive you." Ned saw the rope go taut, pulling against the knot on the tree.

Hand over hand over hand, Áine pulled herself over the edge of the cliff, and began walking her way up the slope, still holding onto the rope.

Ned's heart thundered in his chest. Be safe, he pleaded to Áine. Be safe, he urged the wolf.

You know, the magic began.

"SILENCE," Ned ordered.

And the magic was silent. And that feeling—both wonderful and terrible—from the swirl of the magic begin to ease. It was dangerous, that magic. And no matter how hard anyone tried to force it to do good, it wasn't enough.

It wasn't good.

Still. As Áine came closer and closer, he knew that no matter how wicked the magic was, he would use it again to save her. Again and again and again. Even the wicked can do one good, brave thing.

She is alive, he thought. She is alive, she is alive, she is still alive. Though he hardly knew her, and though he knew, as certain as he knew that his feet touched the earth and not the sky, that she was not his friend, not really, his heart soared all the same.

He reached out his hand to Áine, and she took it.

—Kelly Barnhill, The Witch's Boy

This woman writes kid stories that remind me of how to be a man. I hope to thank her in person one day.