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Showing posts from 2017

On Writing and Money

About an hour ago on HN I said this:
I often write because I NEED to. I don't necessarily enjoy it per se, but I upvoted dang because I can relate to that "an unwritten essay is like an uneaten piece of cake." That writing lives inside me and makes me crazy if I don't let it out. It may not be the most fun I have ever had, but it has a need to happen. So perhaps enjoyment isn't the write word, but pg is describing a thing akin to a hunger that must be satisfied. Dang doesn't have that impetus. I do. So I write.

Perhaps someday I shall get read as well. ;-)
As I said very recently, the current general expectation that writing shouldn't really pay, yet should still be done, is basically an expectation of slavery. With having made the above comment on HN, I want to add that the suggestion that a writer (like myself) should just go get a job that pays well amounts to telling me that I shouldn't expect job satisfaction.

People tend to be good at th…

The World Has Lost Its Ever Loving Mind

I am homeless. I do freelance writing and I blog. I am not pro Basic Income. Instead, I think we very much need to work on the issue of affordable housing and resolve that.

I am having a really shitastic month. Here lately, I have enormous difficulty getting online with my tablet. When I finally fucking got online this morning, I see replies to me on Hacker News from yesterday telling me stuff like this:
And you seem to miss the fact that with UBI you have no incentive to live and stay in an expensive area.

For the deposit amount on an average house where I live I would cover 80% of the cash price of a bigger house country side. But you know, I'd have no work.

The problem is not housing, the problem is cramming all the work in cities. My last 3 jobs could've been done remotely, I asked and was always denied even while offering to take a pay cut.

I and many like me despise living in cities, we do not live there by choice. I've slightly moved out of a big one (London) b…

So You Are Telling Me You Just Aren't Picky About Who Your Slaves Are

Some weeks back, I was again involved in a discussion on Hacker News concerning the ongoing issue that I sometimes call The Ad Blocker Wars. People don't want ads on their content and content producers don't readily know how else to effectively make money. As ad money dries up, in an effort to make up for the shortfall, ads become even more obnoxious, aggressive and in your face. This fact then pushes yet more people into the camp of "Fuck you, I am using an ad blocker!"This is true not just for small time operators like me. This problem is also taking a serious toll on well established publications with professional staff consistently producing very high quality content. Here lately, the top comments on HN in discussion of pieces from Forbes seem to routinely be about how unreadable the site is due to aggressive, obnoxious ads instead of being about the actual article.I repeated part of the discussion to my sons. Many people on HN are well paid programmers. They ten…

How to Effectively Donate Tech Skills

In this Ask HN, someone posted an article that talks about how most volunteering is really a waste of everyone's time. Sadly, I agree with a lot of points in the article, but the article does say: The primary way to usefully volunteer is to have a specialized skill that can be effectively deployed by the organization, but that rarely seems to happen. I am a former military wife and homeschooling mom. Over the years, I did a great deal of volunteer work. I also have a strong academic background and I tend to be generally pretty competent. My experiences with volunteering are that if you actually get stuff done and add value, people are thrilled to have a good volunteer. Further, you can largely do whatever you want for the organization, assuming it actually supports their mission and adds real value.

Some years ago, I did an internship at a small local homeless shelter. It was a requirement for the class I was taking in Homelessness and Public Policy. After the internship en…

My Son Tells Me I am an Anarchist

I was telling my sons the other day that "I really am...a something...and can't quite think of the right word." I then told them an anecdote I was thinking of. Someone on Hacker News posted a comment to the effect of "Blow me. (Justification for their earlier aggressive remark)." and I replied "You are telling a mod to blow you. This is probably not a wise move." Then they deleted their comment and I deleted mine and hopefully the mods never saw either one.

We then talked for a bit about how I raised my two sons, how HN does not put notification next to mod names that they are mods -- and I agree with this, because the best mods are good hosts and hostesses, not simply The Forum Police -- and reasons why I figure it makes sense to inform this individual of a thing that I assume they didn't know. The fact that they then deleted it makes me feel I am right.

My sons tossed out a few words like revolutionary to try to help me complete my incomplet…

My Horse is Higher Than Yours!

Me trying to make the point that these holier than thou types aren't going to back up their ridiculous boasts. God, I hate stuff like that.

My dad served his country for 26.5 years. He fought in two wars. He had a purple heart.

He could not get additional life insurance due to the shrapnel in his eye that could have moved into his brain and killed him on a moment's notice. It also caused blind spells. After he died, I learned that his blind spells were part of why he was so often unemployed when I was a child.

He had a serious heart condition and blood clots. He had cancer twice, possibly in part due to being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, though he had the wrong kind of cancer to get any money out of the government for it.

He dislocated his shoulder for the first time while the army was trying to teach him how to ski for some damn reason. One of his classmates was an Olympic skier who pretended to know nothing at the start. The Olympic skier got the "most improv…

Imperfect Reflections Pt 4: Jessamyn West

This was originally going to be Part 3 of this series of posts. The series stalled for a bunch of different reasons, but it stalled where it did in part because I had no desire for this to be mistaken as a poison pen piece. Early first drafts were not going well, for reasons I hope will become apparent and are not due to malice.

Jessamyn West is Employee Number One on Metafilter -- or was. A couple of years or so ago, she retired from her role as lead moderator there. At some point, I saw her say she was on the board at Wikipedia. She has been interviewed by the white house, who wanted her professional opinion about who to hire as a librarian for the Library of Congress. She has her own Wikipedia page if you really want to know more about her and have never heard of her before.

I internet met her not too many months after I went homeless when someone gifted me a membership to Metafilter in hopes of helping me sort out my problems. For me, "meeting" her was a very painful …

The Smell of Success

So, I know I have made serious inroads for women being able to open their mouths on Hacker News because of the uptick in relatively new women getting on my fucking nerves.

They don't know nor appreciate how hard I have worked to make those inroads happen (#notjustme, of course, but I have put my back into this for a long, long time). They just take it for granted that, of course, women can talk comfortably here! Duh!

They think they are cute or some shit and make nitpicky comments about things I say. To add insult to injury, they then add remarks like "I am female, if it matters."

Success so often smells like manure that I wonder sometimes why the fuck I do the things I do.

Breaking Bones

I wrote a long-ish comment once on Metafilter about how unconditional approval is an oxymoron. Part of what I said is that I am pretty accepting of people and a lot of people seem to want my unconditional approval. When they cannot get it (because it is an oxymoron and just does not work), they wind up hating me.

I have never found a solution for how to deal effectively with such people. I usually wind up trying to just stop interacting with them if that is at all possible. It often is. These are often people met in some online forum. The end result is often that I just stop participating in that forum and I move on to something else.

Such people seem to sense -- accurately enough -- that I am a potential solution to their problem with never feeling good enough or loved enough or whatever. But they seem incapable of letting go of the broken mental models that are the root cause of the problem to begin with. They do not want to see that what I have to offer them is a new mental m…

Crappy Anonymous Internet Comments

I logged in this morning to find this anonymous comment on this page of some ridiculous ranty blog of mine:
This is incredibly inappropriate, as are your other posts referencing Metafilter users and mods. "At least I am not so unfortunate to be her child". Seriously, what the fuck?

Everyone at Metafilter, including the mods, has been incredibly accommodating to you and have let you get away with so much more than they should because of your housing situation and other problems. You freak out when someone disagrees with your (often terrible) advice and you have an extremely unhealthy obsession with this community and you see things that aren't there. There is no "cabal". People aren't against you. Some don't care about you either way, some feel sorry for you, some probably even like you when you're not making an ass of yourself, but you make everyone uncomfortable with this inappropriate, internet-stalker behavior.

I'm not going to treat you…

The Wrong Metrics

So, I have been arguing a bit with someone who doesn't see how classist they are. The degree to which the world measures success by money aggravates me. I think it is one of the reasons the world has gotten so crazy.

I am currently homeless. This is routinely used as proof positive that I am incompetent and not worth listening to. In the minds of a great many people, it vastly outweighs all other measures of my worth as a human being.

I appear to be the top ranked woman on Hacker News. This gets roundly dismissed as not evidence of competence, never mind that men who have a lot of karma there are routinely told that their high karma is evidence of competence. The fact that I am doing this as a woman and while homeless does not get any reactions of "Holy Cow!" (The exclamation that led to the naming of the Lamborghini Countach due to its incredible speed.)

I also have a diagnosis of atypical cystic fibrosis, as does one of my sons. We are getting well when doctors c…

The Textbroker Model

I have had well paid IT people say to me that they don't want to hire any writers using an online service because they are convinced that it amounts to treating writers abusively. They are sure all services are set up like UpWork and people need to bid on projects and engage in price wars, so they think it is a race to the bottom in terms of wages for writers.

In some cases, this means they aren't going to hire a writer at all for their project because it is basically too much of a hassle. But, I have a solution for you. It is called Textbroker.

I do freelance writing, such as resume editing. But the majority of the freelance writing that I do is through Textbroker. It is not a race to the bottom.

Textbroker has several tiers of quality. They are numbered 2-5. If a writer consistently does good work and gets good ratings, they get access to more tiers of increasingly better paid work.

You can also set up a team. Writers need to be at a least a 4 to get access to team work…

Feminist Dudes

The title of this comes from something I saw on the internet. Methinks the gal who defended her so-called "feminist dude" acquaintance could stand to be a bit more skeptical.

Many men who see themselves as very idealistic and pro women's rights are not all they imagine themselves to be. They can be mediocre allies. Sometimes, they are far worse than the Fred Flintstones of the world.

In some cases, they are actually men who want to be relieved of male responsibilities and are happy to wash their hands of things like financially supporting a wife and children. Hey, let the wife go get a paid job -- and also let her continue doing all the women's work. They have no plans to buck up and do their fair share.

I have seen far too many statistics and far too much anecdotal evidence that many women with paid jobs are basically modern slaves. The fact that they can get a paid job has not liberated them. They remain prisoners of social expectations that they do all t…

The Metrics that Matter

This is something I struggle with: Figuring out which metrics matter and somehow making progress on those metrics.

I know you can use forums, social media and the like to further projects, but I have never been good at that. No, instead, much to my chagrin, I was always good at being a walking, talking train wreck where I attracted all kinds of attention of the wrong sort and could not for the life of me figure out how to direct that attention into things I wanted to direct it into, such as traffic for my websites or new members for a discussion group I own.

Over the years, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to stop being a walking, talking train wreck.* For the past few years, I actively worked on attracting less attention and lowering my public profile. I was fairly successful at achieving this goal. On the upside, that meant I saw fewer shit shows. On the downside, it seemed to lead to even less positive attention, such as website traffic.

I found the whole …

PRR Case Study: Starting a New Project

I have long had it in the back of my head that I would like to do something sort of in the vein of BestPlaces.net. I never really had a clear idea what I wanted to do. I just keep seeing questions in various forums to the effect of "What city can I move to that has X?" and I feel like that represents some kind of underserved market or need.

Then on March 30, 2017, I was snarkily tweeting a lot to vent and probably losing followers left and right. Somewhere in there, I began tweeting about wanting to do personalized relocation research for pay. I keep wondering if I can start a business doing personalized relocation research for people.#youwouldthinkthiswouldwork#Butwheretostart?— Mic (@TalithaMichele) March 30, 2017Srsly, I have a Certificate in GIS. I was a military wife. I would be awesome at doing personalized relo research.#Idoitformeallthetime— Mic (@TalithaMichele) March 30, 2017 And then I spontaneously created a website to go with the idea. I have a website even…

Friendly Shoving Matches

There is a great scene in the based-on-a-true-story movie Remember the Titans in which one of the white team members shoves one of the black team members and invites him to shove him back. The black guy hesitates.

In the racist place and time where these events occurred, a black guy shoving a white guy was potentially a good way to wind up seriously harmed or dead. The point at which the black guy shoves back is the point at which race no longer matters to this team. In spite of the horrendous racist environment in which the team existed, the team itself had gotten past race and become a cohesive whole.

Nothing quite as pleasant and triumphant as that scene is happening on Hacker News today. But amidst a lot of not nice comments, downvotes and the like, someone did basically invite me to "shove back" and someone else emailed me to express support.

I don't recall anything quite like this ever happening before. Someone else also conceded I had a point on one particu…

Imperfect Reflections Pt 3: Jessica Livingston

This was actually going to be Pt 4. But my series stalled for a long list of reasons. And then I saw this today: Y combinator, X chromosomes and I am on a tear. As I said in comments there:

Sounds like a great lead in for "Hey, didja know that one half of the original team that actually founded this is really a woman who kind of isn't getting the credit she really deserves while people run around talking overly much about Da Menz."

To be crystal clear, this isn't really about Jessica Livingston. This is about me and my ideas about my life. It has been delayed in part because I doubted the value of saying it in public. But after reading the above tripe, I think I am going to go ahead and put it out there and let the chips fall where they may.

What follows is an account of the unfolding understanding I had of who Jessica Livingston was and is and why that mattered to me, personally. Due to the subjective nature of the tale, it may well be filled with factual errors a…

PSA: I do not have a martyr complex

I can be generous, long suffering and have a lot of forbearance for certain things. I am slow to judge and I am inclined to err on the side of assuming misunderstanding, etc. rather than pointing fingers.

But it often happens that people conclude this means they can just blithely crap all over me and I will take it indefinitely and continue to be kind, generous etc. Nope. I will not.

One of the best things that came from raising my very challenging children is that it allowed me to make my peace with who I am. I am not broken. Other people are just all kinds of stupid and fucked up.

I like being kind, generous, helpful and trying to do nice things for other people. That in no way means I like being a goddamn doormat or taking abuse.

Apparently most of the planet is incapable of figuring this out. They are just asshats and dumber than dirt and just don't get it.

But it isn't me. What I do works well, if people are not both completely fucked up and also dumber than dirt.

A Free Cup of Coffee

I have been trying to close a safe deposit box long distance. Naturally, this is not exactly a one phone call kind of thing.

I was told that I would need a form from a local bank branch. This turned out to not be true, but it means I went to a local bank branch recently in person to talk to a banker about getting this form.

I went there basically first thing in the morning, not long after they opened. They had free coffee in the waiting area. I got myself a cup.

The thing is that I am still homeless. Most of the free coffee I have had while homeless has been from homeless services centers.

When I had a corporate job, I could also get free coffee in the break room. Middle class and upper class people get a lot of freebies in life. Courtesy items are a pretty routine part of life if you have a job or enough money to be a regular customer or participate in various other types of social connections.

One of the big problems with being homeless is the degree to which you are socially c…

#allemannenhandinhand

In 2015, it was Turkish men in miniskirts that was a bright spot in my day at a time when I was fed up with the routine man bashing in the world. Today, it is Dutch men holding hands in solidarity to protest the beating of a gay couple.This stuff tickles me pink. This in particular hits a nerve for me because, in high school, I was asked once if I was having a lesbian relationship with my best friend because we held hands walking down the hall at school. No, we aren't gay. We both have German mothers and it isn't weird for women to walk around holding hands in public in our German-American families.Geez.Holding hands is not a sexual act. Come on.So, you go guys.

Obscure Legal Expression: "Kiss on the Wrist"

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I was writing some fiction last night. I wanted to use the legal phrase "kiss on the wrist." I was concerned it would be too obscure and no one would understand the meaning, ruining the story.

Googling suggests my suspicion is probably spot on. I probably would have lost my readers.

I was just putting an end to an old story that I have grown bored with, so it wasn't terribly important. I ended up truncating that bit mostly out.

But now I feel the urge to tell the story behind this expression because it seems to not be readily available anywhere online. This article seems to be the best reference, and it really does not do justice to this delightful true story.

Sydney Biddle Barrows was a socialite who could trace her roots to people who came over on The Mayflower. Her family no longer had money, but they had taste and upper class manners and expectations.

She tried to go into fashion. She was working for a time as a buyer at a department store. Someone else came…

Make Sure You Wear a Condom When Posting

When I first joined Hacker News, there was only one man on the leaderboard who consistently spoke with me. I viewed that fact as a big problem.I mean, I viewed it as a problem that he consistently spoke to me. The fact that no one else did made it clear this was aberrant behavior, talking to a newcomer female.It really didn't matter why he talked to me. The reason for it was irrelevant. I was clear this was going to go bad places. It was one of those thorny issues where there was no good answer. I was clear that publicly asking him to stop would make the problem bigger. I was also clear that privately asking him to stop would make the problem bigger.So, I spent about a year doing my best to just quietly walk away from discussion with him. I also put a lot of effort into formatting my comments in a way that I hoped would not draw his replies. In essence, I walked on eggshells.He isn't used to being ignored. He got increasingly grumpy about the situation until he finally picked …