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Mark Atwood
A mile is a thousand strides of a marching soldier. A pound is a rock that fits in your hand. A cup is a good drink of water. A yard is one arm pull of fabric or thread. A bushel is one easily carried bundle of harvested food. An acre is the amount of land that one man can plow in one day. An hour is the length of time that can be easily snap measured by glancing at the angle of the sun. The traditional dry goods and wet goods volumes and weights are doubles and halves of each other, rooted in the smallest common food grain and the smallest possible pour of water. Inches, spans, cubits, feet, yards, are all derived from the human body, and let one use your own body to measure things out. Degrees F are a 100 unit scale from the lowest temperature to the highest temperature that will ever regularly happen were people could live before the invention of modern HVAC.

They all make sense, when you know their history, and are using them for what they are used for.

The metric SI units are useful doing... science. But not so much for living day to day.

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Re Theil / Gawker, the thing I find interesting is that Theil merely picked up a sword that his "enemies" forged.

A now common attack pattern is to take someone's entire history, mine it for the worst possible statements or or associations, reframe them in the worst light, publish them anew, and then crucify the target for them.

This attack pattern dates back to "Rules for Radicals", where the evil man Saul Alinsky promoted it as a just and valid tool, with step by step instructions.

It's a classic SJW attack pattern.

It's now a pattern in US politics, first pioneered by the first Clinton campaign in 1992, to put an observer, preferably with a video camera, at every possible public event attended by every possible opponent, and wait for someone to say something off the cuff in a moment of tiredness and accidental honesty, and then crucify them for it later. This attack pattern promptly crossed the aisle, and then spread to other countries, because if you don't do it, you don't win.

It is also how Gawker generated many of it's stories. They would mine some target's history, and also let it be known that they paid good money for bad dirt, and then, again, reframe it all into a worst possible narrative with the worst possible frame.

Well, that's what Theil did. He mined Gawker's entire publication history, and picked off every case where there was a credible claim for damages, and then picked thru the set of possible complainants, and guaranteed their legal bills.

Paying someone's legal bill without asking for a cut of the damage award is currently legally completely unproblematic. If you want to ban it, you just banned donations to the EFF, the ACLU, the SPLC, and many other highly respected institutions across the spectrum.

Killing Gawker is not a setback for journalism. Everything good they may ever do in the future, will be better done by someone else. Anyone else.

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"... protect our existing rental housing supply ... "

W. T. F.

To my dear Mayor Ed Murray, and my dear members of the Seattle City Council and my dear members of King County Council, and all like minded so-sure-you-are-correct busybodies, greetings:

It is not YOUR "housing supply".

The "housing supply" belongs to the people who are actually building structures, who are actually paying the mortgages, who are actually paying the property taxes.

If you want to "reduce the pressure" on "our" "housing supply", allow the construction of more and higher density housing without letting a thousand and one different self-important mandarins with a guaranteed pension insert themselves into the multiplying paperwork, and with without allowing and encouraging a hundred and one community "activists" who demand to be "consulted" until they are bought off.

Or you could take the approach that had been traditionally taken by Seattle area municipal government in the past, and get so insular, corrupt, disorganized, intrusive, and incompetent, to the point where you actually do fuck up the local economy, and an anchor employer, or two, pulls up and leaves. Again. The resulting population and economic crash will lower housing rents, guaranteed.

We are lucky that most of the major anchor employers are dominated by investors, owners, and senior executives who actually appear to love the Pacific Northwest for itself, despite the local muni governments, but there is a limit, and the only employer who *HAS* to be located here is the Port, which you and your cronies have already fucked up.

I remember what this city was like as it was just getting it's shit together in the late 90s. I've seen the pictures and read the articles about what kind of decrepit dangerous ugly cesspools that huge swaths of city were in the 60s and the 70s and the 80s. I even am friends with some people who fondly remember that area. But you know what? The people who fondly remember that era were, at the time, big strapping muscular males full of piss and vinegar. I also am friends with other locals who remember that era, quite a bit less fondly.

Sincerely, A Resident (who still loves Seattle, despite the best efforts of half the population and 90% of the elected muni government. )

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The snarky ragefest that is #askeljames exists, because very few are willing to admit the truth about the success of Fifty Shades.

It's so much better to blame it all on her: It's her fault that it's poorly written. It's her fault that it's a terrible example. It's her fault that it upholds an abusive relationship.

It's her fault it's her fault it's all her fault.

It is not, in the slightest degree, her fault.

There are hundreds of thousands of pages of slashfic and abusive erotica on the internet. Much of it written by women, and much of it enthusiastically, if mostly secretly, read by women.

Fifty Shades just happened to be the one that randomly bubbled out of that environment, at the moment when technology made it possible.


If it had not been her as the author, it would have been someone else very much like her.

If it had not been Anastasia, it would have been a character very much like her.

If it had not been Christian, it would have been another character very much like him.

There was no conspiracy of publishers that plotted together and plucked this work from obscurity.

Fifty Shades of Grey was made possible because e-books made it possible to have an overnight runaway bestseller without having an acquisitions editor having to admit to liking it.

Fifty Shades of Grey was made possible because e-readers made it possible to have an overnight runaway bestseller without having to schedule very expensive presses months in advance.

Fifty Shades of Grey happened because it appeals. It appeals to a lot of people, and it appeals deeply to them

It appeals in a way that is incorrect. It appeals in a away that is deemed unhealthy. It appeals in a way that is deemed immoral.

The judges of what should be correct, of what should be healthy, and of what should be moral, may very well be correct.

In this particular case, I'm inclined to agree with the judgements of incorrect, unhealthy, and immoral.

But still, it appeals.

It appeals to the readers. Tens of millions of readers, who willingly and intentionally and mostly by word of mouth bought a copy of these books, and read them, and enjoyed reading them.

Anastasia Steele appeals to readers, who see themselves as her, and wish and dream of having her adventure.

Christian Grey appeals to readers, who wish and dream of the attention of someone like him.


Fifty Shades happened because individual people found it, read a little bit of it, enjoyed how reading it made them feel, read it all, and told their friends, who read a little bit of it.

And that truth, is what is enraging people.


Me, I think it's hilarious.

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I wonder about media leakers.

I'm not talking about whistleblowers, who reveal coverups by governments and corporations that are keeping secrets of bad or illegal actions.

I'm talking about people who "confidentially source" to the media details of business negotiations, media productions, and gossip of private heartache. Things that are private and confidential for a reason, will be revealed when they are properly baked, and that do nobody any good for being revealed early, except maybe for a burst of clickstream traffic for the "news" source that "scooped" it.

I know a fair number of secrets. Some of them are close friends' private heartaches, which are theirs to reveal, if ever. And some of them are business negotiation secrets incidental to my job, and a few of them part of my job to know. I actually go out of my way to avoid learning things I shouldn't need to know at my employer, just so as to firewall myself from even the appearance of impropriety.

Any of them, if I "confidentially sourced" them to the tech press, would do nothing but cost money that is not mine for no honest gain to anybody, possibly prevent good things that I would like to have happen not happen, and would betray my own principles I try to hold myself to.

So, why do other people do it?

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Long ago, almost two decades, which is a few eons in internet time, on discussion forums long since destroyed and passed away, I observed two different social justice zealots. This was before the term "social justice warrior" had been invented. (And as an aside, the term was invited and taken up by people who loudly described themselves as such. It was not, as they now claim, a term created as an insult by their "enemies".) Anyway...

There were these two social justice zealots. And each one claimed to be politically active in their local politics, each one of them working to undo a great racial injustice.

One of them, they were involved in a struggle to change the electoral rules in their city, to change it from at at-large vote for the entire city council, to instead divide the city up into districts, so that each geographic region of the city would have representation on the city council, as this was the way of racial justice, and any opposition to this could only come from wicked racists.

And the other one, they were involved in a struggle to change the electoral rules in their city, to change it from divided districts, one district per council member, to instead have an at-large vote for the members of the council, such that each ethnic group spread across the city could join in solidarity to back a candidate of their ethnicity, so that each ethnic group would have representation on the city council, as this was the way of racial justice, and any opposition to this could only come from wicked racists.

I was not the only person to notice this. However, despite some efforts, nobody was able to get the two of them to engage with each other.

I learned a number of important life lessons from watching this, all of them darkly hilarious.

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I've waited over a year to tell this story. And I'm going to leave out some details that are in my notes, for obvious reasons.

In November 2013, the OpenStack Summit was held in Hong Kong. My employer worked with their publicity and media relations groups and companies to arrange some interviews with the Chinese technical press with some "thought leaders" in my company, and I was tapped as one of people to participate. What was arranged was a panel interview, were all of the reporters and all of the interviewees all met all at once all at the same time in a meeting room at the conference center.

I showed up early to review the briefs and messaging, much to the relief of the marketing and publicity people.

At the stroke of the minute, one reporter showed up. I will not name them, or their employer. Their manner pinged all my rapid impressions that they were very capable. They were impeccably attired. Their questions were insightful, and each one lead logically from our answers and the earlier, and revealed that they had read the briefs as well, and was pretty familiar with OpenStack, with how the summit works, with my employer, and what my employer had publically said in the past about working with OpenStack and with open source. Their English was very good, though accented, and they took copious rapid notes while listening.

About 10 minutes later, all the other reporters showed up, late, about a dozen of them, with a female translater in tow. They were all male. Several of them were obviously hung over. I'm pretty sure several of them were still intoxicated. A couple were significantly overweight, which was odd for me to see on a Chinese man. They all arranged themselves in a phalenx behind one guy, who asked all the questions, from a notebook, via the translator. His questions were much less insightful, most of them were already answered by our advanced brief doc, and they were much more "fluffy", and much more about "why should China care?" He took no notes, and some of the men arranged behind him did take some.

The reporter we had been working with earlier sat silently in the corner, head down, eyes down.

I asked later, and had my suspicions confirmed. The excellent reporter we had been speaking to first, represented the *only* mostly independent tech press outlet represented. All the other quote reporters unquote represented state controlled media companies, or represented media outlets that were owned by state or army owned enterprises.

For obvious reasons, I am not naming anybody here, not even my own employer.

But, that was an interesting and illuminating experience, and is apparently just part of the facts of life when dealing with China.

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One of the tricks to writing with a fountain pen with highly saturated ink is to keep a small glass of water and a heavy paper napkin on the desk. If the pen ever skips, dip the nib for a moment into the water, and then wipe it off with the napkin.

I've been writing with FPs since 1987, and only figured this trick out this year.

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When I lived in North Carolina, my best friend was Michael Wilson. He was a big kid, two years older than me, one year ahead of me in school, and he lived on the same rural dirt road that I did.

We met on the school bus one of the first weeks of school when I was in the 1st grade, and completely new to the area. He decided we should be friends, and thus so we were. He was a big happy guy, despite his family's grinding rural poverty and the death of his father to lung cancer.

We stayed best friends for the next 7 years, until I left NC in 1982 at the age of 13 to move to UT. This was, of course, long before email and facebook, and cross country phone calls were expensive, so we promptly fell out of touch with each other.

A few years ago, I started considering finding him again, and hoping to discover him owning his own machine shop somewhere around there in NC. Last week I discovered that my sister Suzanne was FB friends with one of her old friends from NC who also lived on that street, and so I asked her about Michael.

Two years after our family moved away, in 1984, he and his mother were killed in a serious traffic accident. He would have been 17 at the time.

Goodbye, Michael. You are remembered. You were the first real friend to a shy scrawny overly smart kid who didn't know how to be friends with anyone until then.

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Original post here.

Over a decade ago, in the mid 1990s, I had a subcontract gig to fix a broken backup for an early web message board. The users were mainly from the northeastern US.  And they were all cops.

The owner of the site would check the credentials of all the users, to make sure they were actually real police officers. He then outsourced the technical operation of the site to technical contractors. To people like the sysadmin who subcontracted to me to fix the broken backup system.

The operating sysadmin picked me for the gig in part because he thought I would find the site content illuminating, and encouraged me to read it. I read all the message boards posts via the database. Post after post of cops chattering among themselves, thinking they were "safe", thinking only "brother officers" would read their words, telling each other on-the-job stories, and expressing stomach churning levels of bigotry and hatred, and sharing tips and tricks for all sorts of ways engaging in small and medium scale corruption, thuggishness, theft from the public, fraud on the court, techniques for abusing the people they were detaining and arresting, and why it was ok that they do all these things.

One of the more interesting regrets in my life is that I didn't make a copy of that database, and anonymously send a copy to every investigative reporter, defense attorney law firm, and social justice org in New England.

To this day, I cannot say if I did the Right Thing or not.

I've been hearing about a modern site called "officer.com", which sounds to be a nationwide successor to that small regional web bbs. And from what I can tell from what leaks from it, it sounds like the kind of outlook and conversation has not improved any.

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