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Showing posts from June, 2017

Announcing: The Works

A couple of months back, I started a Reddit called Housing Works. Today, I started a Reddit called Health Works.

So here is some of the backstory and raison d'etre:

I was considering starting a Reddit named (iirc) "Affordable Housing," but there already was one AND it had been banned or something. The name was taken, but the Reddit was not actually available. Apparently, they behaved pretty badly.

I was wanting a space for collating information on things like policies and practices that work to foster more affordable housing, but also for collating information on potential viable solutions for individuals and families in the here and now. I have a blog called Project: SRO where I want to gather research related to viable solutions for students, singles and seniors. But I wanted something a bit broader and more interactive. So, I started a Reddit.

To my surprise and delight, it has a few subscribers and someone other than me has submitted articles that aren't spam…

The So-Called Patriarchy

The other day, I argued a little with tptacek, the top ranked guy on HN. And it is sticking in my craw.

Here is tptacek today saying to someone Don't comment like that here and includes a link to the actual mod saying to not do it. But he doesn't frame it alike "FYI, the mods ask people to not do this." He frames it like he is issuing orders.

It likely got upvoted by other people, but he is not in charge on Hacker News. He is not part of the moderating staff. Yes, he has obscene amounts of karma (currently: 277327 and will likely go up before I finish writing this post) and is the top ranked guy on the leaderboard, but, no, he is not an authority in charge on Hacker News. But he sure as hell talks at people like he is.

In essence, it is this sort of thing that women are generally talking about when they bitch about "The Patriarchy." And it gets on my nerves when Thomas (aka tptacek) does it because I feel that I helped put him in this position where he…

Affidavit Given in the Court of Public Opinion, June 24, 2017

When I first arrived on Hacker News, it was not uncommon for me to see men say horribly inappropriate, sexualized things to women merely because they were posting as openly female. But I got very little of that.

I don't believe it is because no one finds me attractive. Never mind that I am old and ugly, this does not stop men from reacting to me as a mere sex object for simply being female.

I also don't believe it is because of me being particularly talented at deflecting such comments. Don't get me wrong, I do think I am pretty talented. But the state of the world today is such that men are often horrendously pushy about such things. Women are often not capable of defending themselves, no matter how hard they try.

No, the truth is that I had a shield. There was someone else whose very existence deflected a lot of that for me.

It is a well established fact that men who have zero respect for women will back off if they view a particular woman as some other man's &q…

Negative One Jobs

I spent some time reading articles and watching TV shows with interviews or other data on people who had won the lottery. I was trying to mentally model what typically happens to your life if you get a big influx of money like that.

About two thirds of them are bankrupt within five years.

So, I thought about this a lot. What mechanisms cause people to go bankrupt after winning the lottery?

I am sure there are many factors, but I strongly suspect that a central issue is that many of them believe themselves to be on Easy Street. So, they promptly quit their job.

There are 168 hours in a week. (7x24=168)
We all should be sleeping about 8 hours a night. (7x8=56)
That leaves about 112 waking hours. (168-56=112)
Let's assume about 2 hours per day for eating, showering, and similar. (7x2=14)
That leaves 98 hours. (112-14=98)
If you have a full time job, you will work at least 40 hours a week. Google tells me that average hours worked (U.S.A.) are closer to 47. That leaves…

How Do I Know I'm Number One?

So, for the second time in just a few days (though they deleted their question after I replied to it), I have been asked how do I know I am the top ranked woman on Hacker News. Here was the first:
How do you know (that you are the top ranked woman here)? I mean, it's not like HN profiles have mandatory gender field, and there are higher-ranked profiles than yours that don't link to external profiles or provide real names from which (risky) guesses can easily be made about gender, and whose comment/post history doesn't, on a quick review, give any direct indication of the user's gender.
And this was my reply:
I spent some time gathering data because I was getting what seemed to me to be a fuckton of excess pushback for someone who was a big fat nobody with a paltry amount of karma. There is a quick and dirty summary of the data here: http://micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com/2015/01/some-raw-data-on-prominence-of-women-on.html

I usually couch it in terms of "I a…

UBI: Stuck Behind the Eight Ball

I actually started this stub a few days ago, but I am having a really frustrating conversation on Hacker News. Rather than continue to engage people who seem to have no real respect for me, I think I shall go ahead and just write out what I have been thinking about for a few days.

As mentioned previously, my alimony is a bit over $10k annually. Coincidentally, $10k annually is the figure some articles list as how much we will give people for their UBI.

In 2015, I made something like $2200 in earned income for freelance writing. In 2016, I made something like $3900.

Now, please note this still puts my income well below $20k and I remain homeless. My life is still in the goddamn toilet.

But my earned income from 2015 to 2016 went up something like 75 percent and my total income went up over those two years by around 40 percent, or a bit less. Those are pretty substantial figures, percentagewise.

For me, this has been a significant improvement in my life and it helps keep hope al…

Change is afoot

I closed yesterday's cranky post with the line Because god knows no one listens to a fucking thing I say. And I still feel that way, but...

This morning, I submitted a Forbes piece to Hacker News with an interesting title before reading the entire thing. Sadly, I actually have a long history of submitting half read items to Hacker News. Whether or not I read through the whole thing has zero correlation to how well it does on the site. Some things I never bothered to read all the way through did incredibly well, spending substantial time on the front page and generating substantial discussion.

You people are smarter than me and those articles were actually meaty. I could not cope with wading all the way through some of them, but I thought you would like them and in some cases you did.

But, apparently, that was when things I submitted made it to the front page based on merit alone. I appear to be getting more attention and respect on HN here lately. To my surprise, this piece p…

Feeling Cantankerous

I tried to ask a question on HN and it didn't go so well. Part of what I said was I just don't know how to say this more diplomatically because this is not how YC started and I have trouble with the direction it seems to have taken. The lead mod for HN responded in a manner that has caused me to realize that I need to write about something that has been bugging me. Avoiding it is apparently causing my comments on HN to go weird places.

My remark came across like I have a problem with YC wanting to grow companies to a large size. That isn't really what my problem is. I don't have a problem with the VC model. I am well aware that they need some companies to grow large in order for their investment to pay off. I have zero issue with that.

My real problem is that I don't much like Sam Altman and I worry that the reasons that I don't much like him bode ill for the kinds of companies that YC will produce in the future.

I have already written some about why I do…

The case for well structured 1099 work

In America, 1099 is a tax form used for contract positions. In other words, 1099 workers aren't full time employees with benefits. Many people assume that if you are a 1099 worker, you are basically being exploited. This is often the case, but most of my earned income is as a 1099 worker with an online service. I would actually like to see a lot more 1099 opportunities that are done well. I usually refer to this idea on this blog as "Gig work done right."

Home Hero recently announced that they are shutting down. They provided a marketplace for home care providers who were 1099 workers. Yesterday, I left a comment on Hacker News about my ambivalent feelings about Home Hero.

I don't know a lot about Home Hero or that problem space, but their article announcing their shut down suggests that it is probably hourly work that didn't pay all that well on an hourly basis. This is inherently problematic for the worker. It essentially puts a hard cap on their earnings.…

Prison Food in the Land of the Sleaze and the Home of the Depraved

Due to my medical condition, I frequently experience somatopsychic side effects, such as anxiety or mood swings. These are largely managed with diet.

Recently, I was experiencing a lot of inexplicable anger. Ultimately, we got it under control by upping my consumption of vitamin C.

This caused me to wonder if prisoners in the U.S. could be "reformed" in part by feeding them optimally so at to resolve any underlying nutritional issues contributing to their personal problems. So, one of my sons googled up an article about prison food. And it is far more horrifying than I imagined. Many prisoners in the U.S. -- one of the richest countries in the world -- are so underfed, they are essentially starving.

So much for my pie in the sky ideals. America's shortcomings are so much worse than I imagined that our prisoners would be better off if we simply fed them an adequate number of calories such that they stopped eating tooth paste and toilet paper to cope.

I was reminde…

It Cuts Both Ways

I have previously written about getting my sons to take over the women's work. That went remarkably well, much better than most of the stories I hear from people on this planet who are trying to figure out how to escape traditional gender roles.

I had a female coworker at Aflac who was the primary breadwinner in her marriage. Her unemployed husband didn't seem to do anything at all at home. She would go home after work to find he had been playing video games and expected her to cook.

Men seem to routinely discount the value of "women's work" while very often assuming that it will get done for them. I don't think this is necessarily intentional. I think in many cases, they genuinely have a blind spot.

Things like racism, sexism and classism are insidious and persistent precisely because the people who perpetuate them often are largely unaware of the ways in which they perpetuate them. I am convinced of this in part because of how often they perpetuate them…

(Insert Terrible Title HERE)

Titles are hard and they are harder still for some types of subject matter. So I am not going to bother to try to come up with something that tries to convey what this is about and also manages to not step in it. That seems like an incredibly tall order to fill. In fact, I suspect it cannot be done. Trying to tell you up front what I want to talk about probably cannot be done in a non-inflammatory manner and the whole point of this piece is that I hate how often people try to put out this fire with gasoline.

I posted a piece to Hacker News this morning about a rape case. I thought it was a good piece because the victim did not initially believe she was raped in part because of how drunk she was. She was not hateful. She was understanding and forgiving, yet the case did go to court and the young man has a sealed juvenile sentence.

I think it is a remarkably good and even-handed piece about such issues. This is why I posted it to HN. Sadly, it will probably get zero upvotes. In fact…