Showing posts from October, 2016

Blind Dev Works

Three days ago on October 28th, I tripped across this discussion on Hacker News: Ask HN: Any other blind devs interested in working on dev tools for the blind?

By the time I found it, a number of people had already said "Shoot me an email." It struck me that a collaboration space would add a lot of value here. I felt that would be better than blinddev trying to wrangle a bunch of individual email discussions with a bunch of different people.

I took the liberty of setting up a Google Group called Blind Dev Works and announced it in the thread. I am a woman and not a programmer. I often feel I do not get taken seriously on Hacker News. I figured I would be totally ignored.

The following morning, I had an email requesting an invitation to the group. So, I sent the invitation. Later in the day, I was futzing around, not getting much of anything done -- which is often the case, due to my medical situation -- and it occurred to me that all the people who had said "shoot …

Being a woman on the internet

This week has been eventful and tumultuous. Such periods tend to include a lot of highs and lows and big feelings.One of the highlights of this week was a short email from a woman who called me brave for being openly a woman on the internet. There are plenty of women who are openly female online, so that seemed an odd statement to me. However, she had found my email address through Hacker News, and it is a known fact that some women that participate on HN actively hide their gender.I told her I don't think of myself as brave. I think it more likely I just have a background that makes it safer and easier for me.Part of that background is that my father and ex husband were both career military. I was a homemaker and military wife for a long time before becoming a divorced single mom. If you look at human history, highly militarized cultures and times of war tend to be good for women's rights. During World War I, women were asked to donate their corsets and many layers of skirts …

My Bugaboo about "Dating"

There is an older piece on my blog called No Dating Required where I talk about my personal "no dating" policy. It is one of the oldest pieces on the site. In fact, it was written before this blog existed, and it made the short list of posts that got republished here when I closed down several older sites of mine, moved the content, and restarted my various web projects.

At the time that it was written, my writing had a far more limited audience than is true today. I have reason to believe the piece in question was understood just fine by my audience at that time, but my audience has grown a bit and it seems to not be that clear to people reading it these days.

Early in the piece, I explicitly define what I mean by the term "dating." I define it as men spending money on women in hopes of getting laid.

I am very well aware that is not how most people would explicitly define the term. This is precisely why the term not only appears in quotation marks but then …

It is called Testifying

About 18 years ago, I joined my first email list. It was a gifted homeschoolers list. Parenting advice is touchy territory and gifted kids are edge cases to begin with. Over time, it became clear to me that the gifted homeschooler crowd tended to be even more edgy than average. Very often, either the kids are highly gifted, and thus they do not fit into the school gifted program, or they are twice exceptional and really, seriously do not fit (or both and then, yeah, good luck with that).So, the rules on list said in part "One size does not fit all" and "Either cite your sources or speak from firsthand experience." In other words, it was fine to say "When we had that issue, x worked for us" and it was also fine to say "According to X book, the best way to handle that is..." It was absolutely not fine to say "You should do x." Saying "You should do x" was invariably all kinds of drama. It was extremely problematic and it was ju…

The Fly in the Ointment

A couple of years ago, there was a MetaTalk on Metafilter about answers in medical asks. It was not actually inspired by this ask about someone being bitten by a feral cat, but that ended up getting discussed.

Ultimately, the individual who had posted the Ask about the feral cat ended up closing their account. The long and short of it is they ended up feeling pressured into getting rabies shots by people on Metafilter -- which contradicted the actual medical advice they had gotten from multiple doctors -- and they ended up regretting it.

Just days later, there was an Ask posted by someone whose friend had put out a fire the night before and was wondering if they needed to see a doctor or not. They had gotten a face full of smoke, but no serious burns. So far, they had not gone to see a doctor.

The answers generally struck me as a good deal less strident than they often are on AskMe. People seemed to be trying to hedge their bets and not sound pushy. I felt this was rooted in the …

Ancient Wisdom Tells Us: Idle Hands are the Devil's Workshop

So, someone asks on Ask HN: If your economic necessities were taken care of, what would you work on? and someone answers: Prostitutes and Cocaine. I initially replied with this and then deleted it and decided to blog about it instead: This is a succinct explanation for why Basic Income is a bad idea: Many people would not work on anything at all if they didn't need the money to survive. If everyone had that option, societal collapse is likely to follow. I chose to delete my reply because I figured it would end up being treated as me having an ax to grind or a derail or something.

But the point is that people ask these questions and tend to assume that all answers are supposed to be about some personal passion for making the world a better place. The assumption is that no one is going to honestly answer "Are you kidding? If I didn't have to work for a living, I would just play video games all fucking day."

So, you can't really have a good discussion about…

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

So, my laptop died yesterday. Due to my medical situation, this is a significant health event for me. I was incapable of doing paid work yesterday, so, naturally, I ended up talking with people on the internet to pass the time.I was posting comments on Hacker News. As is the norm there, most of my comments get little to no attention, but if I make a comment about women's issues, well they are all over that like white on rice, and usually not in a good way.To be fair, most of the comments were not actually ugly. But one of the problems is that there are overwhelmingly more men there than women, so the odds are good that a relatively large number of people will not agree with me and will feel compelled to express their disagreement. This creates a situation where I can either reply to the majority of people addressing me and end up looking really fighty, or I can mostly not reply and end up looking like I do not have a rebuttal because my position is weak and not thought out. Either…

How Women are Disadvantaged in Salary Negotiations

Women tend to negotiate less on salary and be less aggressive in such negotiations than men. I don't believe we really know yet why that is.

One known likely factor contributing to this issue is that people will behave in a risk averse manner when they know they are poorly position or at a disadvantage in some way. So, if you are a woman and you know that simply getting a good job is a score for you, you may not wish to push your luck by asking for more money and possibly lose the job offer entirely because of it.

But I also have reason to believe -- based on firsthand experience as a woman, plus things I have read -- that most women lack casual access to the sorts of information that help successful men negotiate with confidence.

Women are generally less able to do things like shoot the breeze over a beer with others in their field. Even if they do, they are more likely to get hit on rather than get good information out of the experience that would help them further their c…

So Tragic

I am pretty open about having attempted suicide in my teens. Something I talk about a lot less: The fact that it got met with so much criticism and lectures from people at my high school and so little compassion or curiosity as to what could possibly be so wrong with my life that I would attempt to end it.

I was one of the top students at my school. After I attempted suicide, I was told that I needed to be a role model, I was accused of being a drama queen and informed that there were people in the world with real problems by people who did not bother to ask what problems I had that drove me to try to end my life.

More Anecdata: Some years ago, a member of a forum I belonged to committed suicide. After the fact, the same people who had been assholes to him on the forum in the months prior to his death made polite noises about what a shame it was and polite gestures to memorialize him.

So every time I see a suicide in the news and the endless people online expressing their big fee…

Out of the ashes of the Puerto Rican economy , a seedling sprouts

I assume you have heard of the more than $70 billion dollars in crushing debt and high unemployment rate in Puerto Rico. What you perhaps haven't heard is that the one sector doing well in Puerto Rico is agriculture.

This is a sector that was actively killed off some decades ago so the island could modernize and industrialize. Below are some of the best articles I ran across on the topic. From a multi-million dollar deal with Bayer to a trade forum with New York to local sustainable ag showing up in local restaurants:

Is Puerto Rico the Next Sustainable Ag Hot Spot?

Bayer Opens New Bio-Agriculture Facilities in Puerto Rico

Governor Cuomo Announces First-Ever Agriculture Trade Forum Between New York and Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Is Sowing A New Generation Of Small Farmers

Puerto Rico's born-again farmers dig for victory in island's debt battle

Please Stop White Knighting

White Knighting is behavior that looks good. It looks heroic. It seems to be on the side of goodness and righteousness.

But it's not.

It is an insidious means of reinforcing the so-called Patriarchy. It is not about treating women as equals. It is about a man scoring points to boost his ego and look good in the eyes of others.

It requires women to take the role of Damsel in Distress. This fundamentally undermines the idea of women as equals. It puts them in the role of rescuee and men in the role of rescuer.

Men who do this consistently typically do a poor job of treating women as equals. They aren't actually pro-equality.

When push comes to shove, they typically expect women to remain Little Women and often expect them to Do As They Are Told when spoken to by men like themselves.

I mean, sometimes men are just making an innocent mistake. They haven't thought about it. It is a knee-jerk reaction to injustice to get on their high horse and lecture people.

I wa…